Celebrate Arundhati Roy’s Second Novel. There is cause for celebration because after a gap of twenty years Arundhati Roy’s second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, is due in 2017. It will be published by one of the best publishers available for any author, Hamish Hamilton, of Penguin Random House. Not that alone, she has the best possible editor, Simon Prosser. If she did not have an editor of Prosser’s stature, her book could have suffered because editors play a great role in a book’s final shape; they weed out the irritants.
Why is Roy’s book such a great event? Because she is one of the few who has managed to preserve literary fiction, in its richest form. She has celebrated language for language’s sake. Reviewers have sometimes got baffled by her language, calling it all kinds of things including, “chocolatey” and “rubbery”. What is significant about her use of language is that it draws attention to itself not as Swinburne’s use of alliteration does but as the better handling of Hopkins’s alliteration does. The sound and the sense coexist beautifully, coalescing together and remaining apart, in her prose. She does not use language to bring out merely its alliteration; she makes the best use of speech rhythms which are absolutely under her thumb. Reading Roy one becomes conscious that her words yield much more than most writing does. Words are orchestrated like sound in music but they do not remain mere containers of sound; they contain fictional discourse of the highest order. Remember, “viable diable age”?
Roy’s sentences contain layered meanings and do a number of things simultaneously: they tell touching stories; rhyme and chime, providing a different experience to children and to the adult world; provide literary tourism and they showcase her politics.
Roy has kept away from publishing fiction for two decades. This makes her readers wait and crave for her novel even more. A writer of our times needs to remain in the news, which she does with actions of a more political nature than just writing fiction. Her new novel has everything needed by a novel to come out with record-breaking success in the market as well as in the academic and intellectual circles.