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Living in the Aftermath

Michael Gorra, 19 June 1997

The God of Small Things 
by Arundhati Roy.
Flamingo, 340 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 225586 3
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... Here, with the cloud of a six-figure advance trailing behind her, comes Arundhati Roy: May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jack-fruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air ...

Men with Saffron Smiles

Eleanor Birne: Arundhati Roy, 27 July 2017

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness 
by Arundhati Roy.
Hamish Hamilton, 445 pp., £18.99, June 2017, 978 0 241 30397 9
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... bookseller in the university holidays when the Flamingo sales rep stopped by with a proof of Arundhati Roy’s first novel, The God of Small Things. I wasn’t senior enough to buy books for the shop – that responsibility fell to the managers – but I picked up the pink and black paperback he had left on the counter and opened it. You weren’t ...

Modi does it again

Tariq Ali, 6 June 2019

... noire of the BJP because of her knowledge of ancient Indian history) and Irfan Habib’, or treat Arundhati Roy as Joan of Arc. What’s not in doubt is that most mainstream publishers will be scared away from publishing critical, scholarly works on the origins and development of Hinduism, the RSS etc. This is already happening and will get much ...

Soon to Be Stateless

Francis Wade: Modi’s Plans, 2 January 2020

... of large-scale social engineering projects, which take various forms: in Kashmir, assimilation (as Arundhati Roy has pointed out, the prospect of Israel-style settlement building in Kashmir is not unrealistic); in Assam, the disenfranchisement, and possible internment, of a vast number of soon to be stateless people. Modi’s brand of national ...


Daphne Beal: Code Orange, 6 March 2003

... few days later, but I had worked too hard to get there to pay attention to it. I was interviewing Arundhati Roy, who accused her Government of warmongering in order to deflect attention from trickier issues at home, such as the Muslim pogroms in Gujarat and (recalling images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki) joked about what it might be like to be an ‘...

In the Spirit of Mayhew

Frank Kermode: Rohinton Mistry, 25 April 2002

Family Matters 
by Rohinton Mistry.
Faber, 487 pp., £16.99, April 2002, 0 571 19427 3
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... flourished from the Thirties to the Eighties of the last century. The achievements of Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy and others now at work suggest that it still flourishes despite the opposition view that modern Indians should not write in English. India has a great many languages and English can be thought of as just one more of them, but that argument ...


Amit Chaudhuri: Modi’s Hinduism, 17 December 2015

... and ‘foreign’ organisations (like Greenpeace), and minorities; though, as Arundhati Roy pointed out recently, ‘“intolerance” is the wrong word to use for the lynching, shooting, burning and mass murder of fellow human beings.’ The BJP insists on a form of Hinduism that is wholly new: it accords a deep respect to science ...

Bats in Smoke

Emily Gould: Tim Parks, 2 August 2012

Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing 
by Tim Parks.
Vintage, 335 pp., £8.99, July 2011, 978 0 09 954888 1
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The Server 
by Tim Parks.
Harvill Secker, 288 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 1 84655 577 0
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... he would be furious; he would be throwing chairs round and complaining.’ But the fix was in for Arundhati Roy: ‘The book was charming, it was already a bestseller, it was from India, it was about poor children who suffer abuse but make good, the author was beautiful without being too young.’ If the person writing this doesn’t sound like he’s ...

The View from the Top

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Upland Anarchists, 2 December 2010

The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland South-East Asia 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 442 pp., £16.99, January 2011, 978 0 300 16917 1
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... companies. One sees this time and again, for example, in what writers such as Ramachandra Guha and Arundhati Roy – otherwise not the closest of intellectual allies – have had to say about the current Maoist insurgency in Central India. The Malay term orang asli (often translated as ‘aboriginal’) exemplifies this claim well, as it derives from ...

Belgravia Cockney

Christopher Tayler: On being a le Carré bore, 25 January 2007

The Mission Song 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 339 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 9780340921968
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... the passage in question was a lengthy speech in praise of ‘the Canadian Naomi Klein, India’s Arundhati Roy, who pleads for a different way of seeing, your British George Monbiot and Mark Curtis, Australia’s John Pilger, America’s Noam Chomsky’ etc. Rage blinded several reviewers to the fact that the speaker turns out to be a provocateur, and ...


Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Another Booker Flop, 6 November 2008

... press, another attempt at a form of Indian magical realism in the wake of Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. No one has telepathic or supernatural powers here; time is broadly Newtonian in its flow. This is a novel that wants to be realistic, even if the realism is meant to be understood as tinged with black comedy. There may even be some moralising ...

Where Does He Come From?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Placing V.S. Naipaul, 1 November 2007

A Writer’s People: Ways of Looking and Feeling 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Picador, 193 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 0 330 48524 1
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... all this – save the ‘American’ – looks and sounds more like Naipaul himself than, say, Arundhati Roy or Vikram Seth. Do the Indian Naxalites in Naipaul’s novels not sound as though they have been ground and thoroughly sifted through his own authorial mill? Is this not another case of a lack of self-awareness? It would appear that for Naipaul ...

The Unseeables

Tariq Ali: Caste or Class, 30 August 2018

Ants among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India 
by Sujatha Gidla.
Daunt, 341 pp., £14.99, May 2018, 978 1 911547 20 4
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... than 2500 years ago. ‘What comes by birth and can’t be cast off by dying – that is caste,’ Arundhati Roy describes it in an essay introducing B.R. Ambedkar’s 1930s classic, The Annihilation of Caste: What we call the caste system today is known in Hinduism’s founding texts as varnashrama dharma or chaturvarna, the system of four varnas. The ...

The Mask It Wears

Pankaj Mishra: The Wrong Human Rights, 21 June 2018

The People v. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It 
by Yascha Mounk.
Harvard, 400 pp., £21.95, March 2018, 978 0 674 97682 5
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Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World 
by Samuel Moyn.
Harvard, 277 pp., £21.95, April 2018, 978 0 674 73756 3
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... morality, pointing to the global inequalities perpetuated by the champions of human rights. Arundhati Roy spoke in 2004 of an ‘alarming shift of paradigm’: ‘Even among the well-intentioned, the expansive, magnificent concept of justice is gradually being substituted with the reduced, far more fragile discourse of “human rights”’ – a ...

Pointing the Finger

Jacqueline Rose: ‘The Plague’, 7 May 2020

... be seen? ‘The lockdown worked like a chemical experiment that suddenly illuminated things,’ Arundhati Roy observed recently as India’s working-class citizens and migrant workers were spewed out of the rich towns and megacities ‘like so much unwanted accrual’. In the UK, the unravelling of austerity began more or less the morning after Boris ...

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