Arguably the biggest publishing event in India in 2017 will be the launch of Arundhati Roy’s new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. The publishers have revealed the cover of the novel, which has been designed by David Eldridge of Two Associates (who designed the original cover of The God of Small Things twenty years ago).

The cover photograph is by Mayank Austen Soofi, one of the very few people who have had camera access to the normally reclusive Roy. Here’s what Soofi had to say about it.

On the photo used on the cover:
I’m a devotee of The God of Small Things. I’m also very attached to its cover, a picture of the surface of water with flowers and leaves and the sky reflected in it. I love it because you can keep looking at it. It is so particular and yet elusive, and you can never get enough. And that is exactly how the novel is. I think and I hope that this cover for The Ministry of Utmost Happiness will stir the same feelings in the reader. It’s a photograph of stone, which is the complete opposite of water. Yet I think the cover has that same quality of being particular as well as elusive.

On how he came to take these photographs:
She asked me to. She was very clear about what she wanted. I was nervous, but I tried to follow the brief as closely as I could.

On why Roy chose Sufi:
That’s a question you must ask her. All I can say is that I cannot believe this is happening to me. That my photograph will be on the cover of the second novel of the writer who wrote The God of Small Things!

On what he thinks she was musing on when the photograph was taken:
She was thinking some very private thoughts, I think.

On his blog, The Delhi Walla: Your gateway to alternate Delhi, the city of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Arundhati Roy’:
I started my blog ten years ago, many years before I actually met Arundhati Roy. Delhi is where I live and work. There are two people here who have shaped me and my way of thinking. One is her, a writer who seems to speak directly to me. The other one is the Sufi Saint Hazrat Nizammudin Auliya.