Every so often I like to get out of my reading comfort zone to explore books that I might not ordinarily pick up, so when last night’s event launching Indian writer Arundhati Roy’s new novel ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ came my way, I was keen to attend.
The global launch, as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival and in partnership with Foyles, took place in Birmingham’s Town Hall. Roy spoke about her new novel as well as her previous one, ‘The God of Small Things’, which was written 20 years ago and won the Booker prize.
The Town Hall was a well-chosen setting; the serenely lit stage with a backdrop of the hall’s majestic pipe organ provided a calm and peaceful atmosphere; as did Arundhati, whose presence was elegant and graceful.
It was an insightful evening which began with a short film that transported the audience into the heart of the book’s settings of Delhi and Kashmir. Along with two excerpt readings by Roy, what followed was an engaging conversation in which she discussed various topics including how she approached the writing of the book, how her choice to tell this particular story through fiction was intentional and how her own political experiences inform her writing.
The opportunity to hear an author speak about their inspirations and their approaches to researching, writing and editing a novel is always so motivating and inspiring to me. The most memorable quote from the night was by Roy herself and will stick with me forever, “Writing a novel is a prayer, a song.”
The event shone a light on the struggles and hopes of the people and places Roy writes about and I look forward to delving in further by reading ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.’
Thank you to the Birmingham Literature Festival, Foyles Birmingham and the town hall for hosting this event and I look forward to attending more events like this soon.