The Prescient Anger of Arundhati Roy

Samanth Subramanian in The New Yorker:

Nine months can make a person, or remake her. In October, 1997, Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize for her first novel, “The God of Small Things.” India had just turned fifty, and the country needed symbols to celebrate itself. Roy became one of them. Then, in July of 1998, she published an essay about another such symbol: a series of five nuclear-bomb tests conducted by the government in the sands of Rajasthan. The essay, which eviscerated India’s nuclear policy for placing the lives of millions in danger, wasn’t so much written as breathed out in a stream of fire. Roy’s fall from darling to dissident was swift, and her landing rough. In India, she never attained the heights of adulation again.

Not that she sought them. Through the decades since, Roy has continued to produce incendiary essays, and a new book, “My Seditious Heart,” collects them in a volume that spans nearly nine hundred pages. The book opens with her piece from 1998, “The End of Imagination,” but India’s nuclear tests were not Roy’s first infuriation. In fact, in 1994—after she had graduated from architecture school, and around the time that she was acting in indie films, teaching aerobics, and working on her novel—she wrote two livid articles about a Bollywood movie’s unscrupulous depiction of the rape of a real, living woman. That tone has never faltered. Every one of the essays in “My Seditious Heart” was composed in the key of rage.

More here.

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