After the publication of her Booker Prize-winning debut and international bestseller “The God of Small Things” in 1997, Arundhati Roy became one of India’s most-celebrated authors and also one of the country’s more notable political voices. Her nonfiction essays and public commentary take clear and sometimes controversial positions on globalization, neo-imperialism and the ongoing conflict with Kashmir. With the release of “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,” Roy merges her energies as a fiction writer and an activist, shaping a rich narrative that’s as complex and multivalent as modern India. The emotional centers of the novel are Anjum and Tilo, whose lives eventually intersect at Jannat Guest House, Anjum’s compound built in a cemetery, with headstones in each room so that “the battered angels in the graveyard that kept watch over their battered charges held open the doors between worlds (illegally, just a crack) so that the souls of the present and the departed could mingle.” The house attracts outsiders like Anjum, a hermaphrodite. This includes Hijras (transwomen), but also orphans, political refugees and the troubled victims of India’s religious battles between and within the Muslim and Hindu communities. With each newcomer comes a story of injustice from the pages of Indian history. Anjum’s journey carries her through the streets of New Delhi, from the era of Indira Gandhi to the digital age, always in search of that role that will complete her — motherhood. In the meantime, she’s more like a midwife, ushering lost souls into her sanctuary, which offers respite from the deafening noise of protest and violence. “I’m a gathering,” she says. “Everyone’s invited.” With the release of 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,' Roy merges her energies as a fiction writer and an activist. Among those who take refuge is Saddam Hussein, a sight-impaired young man who changed his name (in order to inhabit the disdain his namesake had for his executioners) after the killing of his father at the hands of a higher caste mob. “I want to pay it like that,” he says, promising revenge upon the corrupt police officer he blames for his father’s death. Until that day arrives, he