Arundhati Roy’s Novel “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”: A Study of Innovative Use of Translation and Intertextuality


  • Ghazala Tabbassum Associate Professor, Head of English Department, Rawalpindi Women University, Rawalpindi


intertexuality, translation, hermaphrodite, linguistic duet, thematic parallelism


The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is Arundhati Roy’s second novel in which she weaves a story around
her protagonist Anjum, who was born as Aftab, a child with hermaphroditic physical condition, and
interlinks her tale with other characters in a compelling saga of love, freedom and power-politics. Her
narrative details the crucial issue of transgender identity, physical, emotional and psychological fracture
such people suffer, and management of resultant trauma. This theme is highlighted through her linguistics
strategies which appears to be a conscious act within the context of the book. The novel is rich in referring
to other texts especially Urdu poetry. She also seems to be aware of the debates on purpose and function of
translation in linguistic and cultural studies. Roy purposively flavors her prose with Urdu verses of many
classical poets and endeavors to translate these verses as well. This study explores the author’s intention
and the rhetorical activity both in the use of intertextuality and translation by combining Bakhtin’s concept
of intertextuality with application of Halliday’s theory of Theme/Rheme in the process of translation. This
paper argues that Roy’s use of intertextuality and ambiguous translation are conscious activities to create a
linguistic duet for Aunjum/Aftab’s hybrid character with “Hijra tendencies” for the purpose of thematic
parallelism. This study points towards an innovative use of translation and intertextuality by the author
hitherto undiscussed in translation theories. Roy’s use raises questions of aesthetic, literary and semantic
combined in a text.



How to Cite

Tabbassum, G. (2019). Arundhati Roy’s Novel “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”: A Study of Innovative Use of Translation and Intertextuality. Pakistan Journal of Language Studies, 3(1), 20-30. Retrieved from //