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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

An epic saga of love and war. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness unfolds amid decades of civil unrest in the Indian subcontinent, during the tumultuous era after the British partition of India, once a treasured colonial jewel. India and Pakistan are at war over the disputed region of Kashmir, a mountainous province in the north renowned for its beauty. Kashmir is a battleground between Hindus and Muslims, soldiers and militants, where children turn into freedom fighters, "tombstones grow out of the ground like young children's teeth" and martyrdom spreads through "saffron fields... like a creeping mist."

Roy infuses her storytelling with mesmerizing imagery and characters. She cleverly compares the tired country of India with an old woman who is forced to hide her varicose veins under imported fishnet stockings and jam her aching feet into high-heeled shoes. Anjum is a transgender prostitute and reality TV star, learning to love herself and yearning for motherhood. Musa, a handsome young Kashmiri freedom fighter, is dealing with unimaginable loss and yet personifies dignity and truth. Love blossoms in the most unlikely of places, including a graveyard repurposed as Paradise Heavenly Guesthouse. As with those in The God of Small Things, Roy's characters finally succumb to her particular version of "happily ever after": bound together by loneliness, they accept each other with the relief that comes with being understood and finding a place to belong.

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