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Bookended by her two award-winning novels, The God of Small Things (1997) and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), My Seditious Heart collects the work of a two-decade period when Arundhati Roy devoted herself to the political essay as a way of opening up space for justice, rights, and freedoms in an increasingly hostile world. Taken together, the essays speak in a voi Bookended by her two award-winning novels, The God of Small Things (1997) and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), My Seditious Heart collects the work of a two-decade period when Arundhati Roy devoted herself to the political essay as a way of opening up space for justice, rights, and freedoms in an increasingly hostile world. Taken together, the essays speak in a voice of unique spirit, marked by compassion, clarity, and courage. Radical and superbly readable, they speak always in defense of the collective, of the individual and of the land, in the face of the destructive logic of financial, social, religious, military, and governmental elites.


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Bookended by her two award-winning novels, The God of Small Things (1997) and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), My Seditious Heart collects the work of a two-decade period when Arundhati Roy devoted herself to the political essay as a way of opening up space for justice, rights, and freedoms in an increasingly hostile world. Taken together, the essays speak in a voi Bookended by her two award-winning novels, The God of Small Things (1997) and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), My Seditious Heart collects the work of a two-decade period when Arundhati Roy devoted herself to the political essay as a way of opening up space for justice, rights, and freedoms in an increasingly hostile world. Taken together, the essays speak in a voice of unique spirit, marked by compassion, clarity, and courage. Radical and superbly readable, they speak always in defense of the collective, of the individual and of the land, in the face of the destructive logic of financial, social, religious, military, and governmental elites.

30 review for My Seditious Heart: Collected Non-fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The breadth of subjects covered in these pieces is breathtaking; written across the ‘00s and ‘10s, the essays and articles collected here trek about India’s social and political life, considering everything from the rise of Hindu nationalism to the insidious workings of NGOs. Roy’s a sharp thinker, and her work breaks down complex history in a clear way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Compilation of Roy’s best nonfiction over 20 years… I’m all caught up! --Well, what can I say. With the best books, I always feel humbled experiencing the mental tapestry crafted over many years by the author, a synthesis of lineages of thoughts culminating in a work of many lifetimes. It is a wondrous moment where we transcend the dimensions of time and our own brief dance with it. --Roy has expressed her joy of writing fiction (which I have not yet read; yes, I do neglect fiction), while she tr Compilation of Roy’s best nonfiction over 20 years… I’m all caught up! --Well, what can I say. With the best books, I always feel humbled experiencing the mental tapestry crafted over many years by the author, a synthesis of lineages of thoughts culminating in a work of many lifetimes. It is a wondrous moment where we transcend the dimensions of time and our own brief dance with it. --Roy has expressed her joy of writing fiction (which I have not yet read; yes, I do neglect fiction), while she treats nonfiction as urgent arguments. These topics are indeed urgent and grim, and yet Roy’s words and wit cut through all obstacles to find the humanity in the struggles. --The title essay “My Seditious Heart” (2016) reviews the rise of Hindu fascism and concludes with the conflicts and resistance in the higher education system, where student activists are building new anti-caste, anti-capitalist alliances inspired by B.R. Ambedkar, Birsa Munda, Jyotirao Govindrao Phule, Bhagat Singh, etc. --I’ve reviewed the rest separately: -1999 The Cost of Living (on India’s nuclear weapons): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -1999 The Greater Common Good (on India’s mega dam displacements): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2002 Power Politics (start of War On Terror): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2002 Algebra of Infinite Justice: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2003 War Talk: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2004 An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2009 Field Notes on Democracy (on genocide): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2011 Walking with the Comrades (on India’s Maoists): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2014 Capitalism A Ghost Story (on India’s corporate jobless growth): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2016 The End of Imagination: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -2017 The Doctor and the Saint (on Gandhi/Ambedkar/India’s independence): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karthik Gowrav v

    The most amazing fact about the book is that the essays in this book which are said to have been written from 2000s almost project the image of present India. Arundhati Roy is a writer who has been gifted with a rare level of clairvoyance that she has been able to perfectly see it through time. A book every logical indian should read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sahil Pradhan

    1. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but if a book can have an enemy, then the enemy of this novel is the idea of “One nation, one religion, one language”, and the theory of “Big Things”. Every woman (and I mean ‘every’ not ‘almost every’) I have met in my life experiences some form of abuse, just that the abuser adorns a different role in each case; husband or parent or sibling or colleague or friend and so on. We live in a world that normalizes such abuses, be it physical or mental. There are many m 1. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but if a book can have an enemy, then the enemy of this novel is the idea of “One nation, one religion, one language”, and the theory of “Big Things”. Every woman (and I mean ‘every’ not ‘almost every’) I have met in my life experiences some form of abuse, just that the abuser adorns a different role in each case; husband or parent or sibling or colleague or friend and so on. We live in a world that normalizes such abuses, be it physical or mental. There are many more women in our society, some trapped forever (may they find courage), some trying to find a way out (may they break the chains holding them back) and some gasping at new found freedom (may they rebuild their lives without the past holding them back). This book is a tribute to all of them. It is also a tribute to the women who make up a society and fail to see what another woman is going through by normalizing the age-old abuses perpetrated by patriarchy and dismissed as ‘It is for your own good’ (It never is). I salute the woman in The Great Indian Rape Trick who tells her story through Arundhati Roy for the world to hear. I am her; but also that society is me, and this is a big problem. Holding a copy of Arundhati Roy’s My Seditious Heart in your hands can be somewhat intimidating, mostly because it gives every indication of being a weighty tome in every sense of the word. Not surprisingly, it is not possible to classify this literary extravaganza which is many things without limiting itself to anything in particular. Arundhati Roy’s remarkable book is not really meant to be analysed, rather the reader would do well to cast aside all reservation and be swept up in its surging currents, delighting in the sheer sensations it evokes. Revel in the inspired ideas, relish the asides that are funny as well as heart-breaking and ride on the wings of lyrical prose that transcends the limits of the medium while allowing your soul to soar towards the very height of great art powered by a superior mind at the very height of its prowess. An intricate, hard-won tapestry of poetic experience in the beautifully and patiently woven prose, with density best suited to thoughtful browsing or individual readalouds rather than reading straight through but with many resonant paragraphs that will strike a chord either of recognition or realization with young readers. In a surprising move, Arundhati Roy is not content to chart their lives and measure the successes of only two extraordinary (many consider them that, I personally do not) humans, as most think in her case is Modi and Gandhi, though she does do that while opting to shift focus without warning to a dizzying array of colourful characters, who are an eclectic mix of writers, artists, freedom fighters, politicians, communists and even double agents all of whom made their own mark on history and left valuable impressions behind of the cultural, political and moral landscape of a crumbling nation. Their stories have mixed results in that they do shed light on a veritable avalanche of complex historical facts which manage to occasionally engage the reader while also leaving him or her disconcerted with the sheer density of information conveyed detachedly in opaque prose and a penchant for dogged descriptiveness that is not always flavoursome enough to be savoured. The frequent meandering detours and a surfeit of material crammed into an overcrowded stage with too much happening at all levels can be most vexing. Oftentimes, the process of perusing this excellent material feels as laborious and cumbersome as scaling an unforgiving peak under extremely unfavourable conditions which makes one want to give up in abject despair. However, in the unlikely event that the modern reader afflicted with ADHD manages to persist, the rewards are not entirely non – existent. Arundhati Roy is determined to perform a delicate balancing act between the opposing viewpoints of the conqueror and conquered and is even-handed to the point of being exasperating. Authors take their pain and use it to paint gripping accounts of racism, culture shock, violence, separation from Nations and humanity, separation from family, and the splitting of one’s self that so often occur when dwelling within, outside, and along borders. It is but a glimpse into all the hardships—emotional, physical, mental and otherwise—that people face. It is a mirror to the broken and destructive times we are living in and how the very foundation of our nation is being threatened by forceful ideologies and blasphemous philosophies. I was moved again and again by the prose in this brave, beautiful and necessary collection. I found echoes of myself in many of the pieces, and I know so many young Indians will find themselves, too. But it goes beyond that. I wish these books would be taught in homogenous communities, too, so readers with little understanding of immigration and freedom will have the chance to see its humanity. This is among the most important book we will read this year. My Seditious Heart is not about a place that is still, but it is about a place that is changing everyday, every moment and in everyway. What do I mean by change? Change is an hourly, meditative practice. The empathy you speak of, it has to be cultivated, to become a habit, through what I can best describe as a process of radical inclusion: of those who are profiled and policed because of race, religion, class, caste, nationality, refugee status, immigrant status, sexuality, gender. Of course, this isn’t radical inclusion; it’s just inclusion. In a book, one of the characters says ‘the opposite of peace is not war. The opposite of peace is inertia.’ If we could normalise inclusion, so that it doesn’t seem radical, if we could overcome the inertia that keeps us from normalising inclusion, then ‘othering’ would not be so easy. That is what this books tells us in their majestic sweep into an unknown parts of the black and segregated history and our destructive future. 2. Arundhati Roy is the author of The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997 and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Since then she has published several works of non-fiction, including The Algebra of Infinite Justice, Listening to Grasshoppers and Broken Republic. She was born in 1961 and now lives in New Delhi, India. The first popular essay written by her after the publication of her maiden novel is rightly titled “The End of Imagination”. The title is highly suggestive in the sense that she has put a pause to her writing fiction after The God of Small Things. Her end to experimental writing is highlighted by the fact that what followed “The End of Imagination” are a series of essays targeted at those in authority. The essays attracted worldwide attention as the voice of a conscientious Indian writer speaking out with clarity and force against hegemony of all sorts. Essentially both her fiction and non-fiction deal with the oppression of the powerless by the Powerful, be it the mistreatment of the untouchables; oppression of divorcees; abuse of neglected children; America’s double standards in its policies; problems affecting the poor due to neo-imperialism through corporate globalization; the travails of the dispossessed due to the construction of Big dams; and dire consequences of amassing nuclear weapons. It is obvious that the author’s ire is directed at the “Big things “and her mission is to awaken her readers to these atrocities and induce in them a non-violent resistance to Power. Her attempt is to decentralize this kind of a hegemonic practice by voicing her protest against such a culture. Roy’s select essays are multi-voiced in the sense that she explores in them alternative perspectives by using multiple genres written from different points of view to augment her point. Genres like dialogues, reports, satire, and parody are incorporated into the traditional essay. Therefore, there is scope to look at Roy’s nonfiction from the dialogic view point. The essays selected for analysis allow for the inclusion of multiple genres and stylization processes to save them from mononlogism. Her nonfiction, in fact, can be categorized under what is called creative nonfiction because of her apt and clever use of language and its effectiveness in driving home her point. The aesthetic value of her nonfiction fits into what Walter Pater calls “the literature of fact”. What sets this creative writer apart is that her polemic prose is substantiated by facts, statistics and data of alarming magnitude that she had carefully researched before writing each article. Her use of the English language as a subversive means of protest has already been evident while viewing her through the lens of the latest literary theories of feminism and post-colonial criticism. Her nonfiction on the other hand is power-packed and is more a direct attack on the ‘Big things’. In fact her nonfiction is an extension of her fiction and engages in a dialogue with each other regarding issues of marginality and subversiveness. The ironic tone, parody, satire, rich metaphors and the great array of rhetorical techniques make it appropriate to the circumstances and encourage dialogism through heteroglossia of various discourses. In Roy’s works every phrase is carefully crafted because the sense of the audience is evident for a dialogic progression. Most of her essays include rhetorical questions which are aimed directly at the readers to initiate a dialogue. In fact verbal interchange is the fundamental reality of any language. In the history of human species, language is born not within the isolated individual, but in interaction, between two or more human beings. 3. Paresh Rawal, actor and BJP MP, tweeted against Roy and hurled a lance of shame and anger on her, telling her to be tied infront of army jeeps in Kashmir for she believed in separation. Being a kind of a worshipper of her it was too hard for me. And people even looked and questioned her recent novel in that political spectrum of hers and for which even she missed the Man Booker for a second time by a tad bit. But should her fiction too be seen in that light? In her essay “Shall We Leave It to the Experts?” Arundhati Roy – I hestitate to use any descriptor here for fear it may spawn another essay – appears to be defending her right to write, be it fiction, non-fiction, or, more appropriately, creative non-fiction, a genre in which Ms. Roy specializes. Odd, isn’t it, that one who rarely writes fewer than 8000 words on a subject needs to defend her urge to write? No matter what others may think, their opinions have not prevented Ms. Roy from writing, on any topic, indeed, on many topics. Not that anyone is suggesting that she stop writing, of course. Distilling her essay to its essence – no easy task, mind you – Ms. Roy appears to be making two main points. The first is that writers, even those living in illiterate and uncivilised India, are allowed to write political essays. That is to say, writers are capable of having opinions on the great political issues of our time. The second point is that writers who have opinions and express them are not taken seriously, because they are, well, writers. With regards to writers having opinions, frankly, what is all the fuss about? Ms. Roy hypothesizes she has been labeled a writer-activist because she has opinions and puts them down in writing. She isn’t the first writer to do so and I doubt she will be the last. Nadine Gordimer, Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, Aldous Huxley, Salman Rushdie, William Faulkner, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Amitav Ghosh – the list of writers who have expressed opinions on political issues is much too long for an online column. Few before her, though, have made an issue of their essays, focusing instead on the cause itself. Nor have these writers, I think, exhibited such public angst over whether a writer should express his or her opinion. They, in the words of that global demon Nike, ‘just do it.’ Should political essays be left to the experts? I think not. I hope not. But, while degrees are not necessarily the measure of authority, merely writing with passion is not enough to make an impact, if that is the desired end-result. Brushing aside those who may some day march along side you serves no purpose. Histrionics and hyperboles may attract plenty of attention, but in the end, it is credibility, not awe, which will get people – not the media, but people who can make a difference – to pay attention. And for that Roy in what she does is not wrong and those who believe that she must be hated and labeled as an anti National, first live a life full of misery, loss and more of human mental and emotional torture and then question if her thoughts and writings which are bold enough to break the foundations of a nation are wrong or right, right or left?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meghavarshini Krishnaswamy

    The timing of the release is sobering. Forgotten crises, forgotten people and forgotten policies. A grim reminder.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    "Civil unrest has begun to erupt in the global village. In countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, and India, the resistance movements against corporate globalization are growing. To contain them, governments are tightening their control. Protesters are being labelled ‘terrorists’ and then being dealt with as such. But civil unrest does not only mean marches and demonstrations and protests against globalization. Unfortunately, it also means a desperate downward spiral into crime and c "Civil unrest has begun to erupt in the global village. In countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, and India, the resistance movements against corporate globalization are growing. To contain them, governments are tightening their control. Protesters are being labelled ‘terrorists’ and then being dealt with as such. But civil unrest does not only mean marches and demonstrations and protests against globalization. Unfortunately, it also means a desperate downward spiral into crime and chaos and all kinds of despair and disillusionment, which, as we know from history (and from what we see unspooling before our eyes), gradually becomes a fertile breeding ground for terrible things – cultural nationalism, religious bigotry, fascism, and of course terrorism." I'd been meaning to read this for ages, but it was so intimidating - more than 1000 pages of political essays, many of them dealing with politics familiar on the subcontinent, but less to me. Then I bought and started on a whim - one essay a day, a month and a half. Some were longer, some were shorter. All combine Roy's transcendent prose with a breathtaking incisiveness. It is however, her prescience that kills. The quote that starts this review is from more than 15 years ago, a time when few could see what is now unavoidable. This very incisiveness makes it tough going. Roy does not shrink from hard truths: "Then there are those fighting formal and brutal neo-colonial occupations in contested territories whose boundaries and fault lines were often arbitrarily drawn last century by the imperialist powers. In Palestine, Tibet, Chechnya, Kashmir, and several states in India’s north-east provinces, people are waging struggles for self-determination. Several of these struggles might have been radical, even revolutionary, when they began, but often the brutality of the repression they face pushes them into conservative, even retrogressive spaces where they use the same violent strategies and the same language of religious and cultural nationalism used by the states they seek to replace."  The longer essays, one of which I had read before, are richest in musing. I devoured the introduction to Ambedkar's work, which discusses Gandhi's relationship with the Dalit leader. It is a balanced look, accepting of nuance, which doesn't stop her probing like: "Gandhi always said that he wanted to live like the poorest of the poor. The question is, can poverty be simulated? Poverty, after all, is not just a question of having no money or no possessions. Poverty is about having no power." Much of it though I found hard. Over the years, few of the causes she advocates for are successful - dams are built, innocent men executed, and the world gets slowly or not so slowly) more dominated by sectoral violence, inequity and prejudice. The bright optimism in her voice gets slightly dulled, joy moves to the act of resistance, to living truth. The outrage never dulls, but a weariness creeps in. Or maybe that is me. There were, of course, bits that made me cry: " Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost." Here's hoping the next collection has the same transcendent style, with more wins.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kshitij Chaurel

    Arundhati Roy - the writer with guts. This collected nonfiction written between the time period of publication of her two fictions reflects her intellectual and personal growth as a writer and a concerned citizen. On the other hand, this book depicts the transformation of India (the world too) from a form of 'democracy' to aristocracy and fascism. Though she denies to be a voice of the voiceless but her writings and actions provide a ray of hope for Muslims, Adivasi, 'untouchables', women, and o Arundhati Roy - the writer with guts. This collected nonfiction written between the time period of publication of her two fictions reflects her intellectual and personal growth as a writer and a concerned citizen. On the other hand, this book depicts the transformation of India (the world too) from a form of 'democracy' to aristocracy and fascism. Though she denies to be a voice of the voiceless but her writings and actions provide a ray of hope for Muslims, Adivasi, 'untouchables', women, and other minorities. One may disagree with her radical and revolutionary voice but one can't deny the influence of her writing power, dedication towards people and anti establishment standpoint. Her non-fictions contain the poetic language with persuasive power.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I became uncomfortable with her talk of the evils of Hinduism but considering she grew up as a religious minority and that 79.8% of the population in India is Hindu is it any worse than religious minorities or nonbelievers lambasting Christianity in the US?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ayesha

    Should a book on politics of a country, by a writer who is renowned for her craft, be a balanced, non-judgemental, factual piece instead of it being an opinion piece imbued with all the emotions the author feels? *Shrugs* For better or for worse, this IS a collection of her speeches and essays over a span of two decades, this IS her opinion, this IS a fight she aligns herself with. To call Arundhati a Maoist because she is sympathetic towards a cause, to call her a terrorist because she screams h Should a book on politics of a country, by a writer who is renowned for her craft, be a balanced, non-judgemental, factual piece instead of it being an opinion piece imbued with all the emotions the author feels? *Shrugs* For better or for worse, this IS a collection of her speeches and essays over a span of two decades, this IS her opinion, this IS a fight she aligns herself with. To call Arundhati a Maoist because she is sympathetic towards a cause, to call her a terrorist because she screams her bias (no matter how good or ill-intentioned it is), to term her an anti-national because she sympathises with those the government hasn't sympathised with IS proving her whole point in the book. I kept aside all her personal opinions - her sympathies, her frustrations, her anger YET what stood out was what she has mentioned in the speeches and essays has happened. These are not conjured up scenarios she's writing about. Even as a silent bystander, I can see that the incidents that have shaped recent India aren't in alignment with Democracy as a concept. And that's why it's important to read My Seditious Heart. If you can't hear a different opinion than the one that is ingrained in your conscience, she wins. That's the point she's trying to make. On a different note politics aside, she looks at the world through her artist's glasses. If you truly understand what she's saying you'll know that she isn't trying to speak against someone or for someone. She's simply saying, put people first. Stop the caste/religion/region based atrocities on them. She's saying governments should not be dictatorial (she's included the left and right wing in this). Though idealistic, though having its feet in a mystical world rather than in the real one, she has a point. If you can silence your own objections long enough to listen, she might just make some sense. About the book - since it's a collection of her work over the years, there's a lot of information that will feel repetitive, but since it was supposed to be an update on the previously spoken /written about issues, it makes sense if you read it as such. That's one part that got tedious for me, otherwise, if you can read with an open mind, I'd suggest you give it a try. If only to counter her.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Taruna

    I haven't read all the essays yet. I plan to finish reading them over a longer course of time. I love how Arundhati Roy writes, but these five stars are not only about the writing. I admire her ability to see deeply through the politics that transpires in India, tie it back to a time when it had just started brewing, and consequently envisage a future that the events of the present are bound to bring. The older essays are particularly striking since a lot of what is imagined has occurred all too I haven't read all the essays yet. I plan to finish reading them over a longer course of time. I love how Arundhati Roy writes, but these five stars are not only about the writing. I admire her ability to see deeply through the politics that transpires in India, tie it back to a time when it had just started brewing, and consequently envisage a future that the events of the present are bound to bring. The older essays are particularly striking since a lot of what is imagined has occurred all too bluntly in recent years in India. These essays are educating and revealing, challenging the so-called "saviours" of the country, they fill me up with a wish to delve further into the history of Indian politics. The offered perspective is something I needed in these particular years in my life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Samir

    A must read for every Indian, who is still an Indian and has not fallen in trap of being a political party loyalist or a leader-worshipper... A must read for every human being who is still human in these times of bigotry... 'My Seditious Heart' is a reminder to introspect every time you find yourself going with the flow of popular single dimensional views, with no appetite to see a problem from all sides... This is a book not to be missed... A must read for every Indian, who is still an Indian and has not fallen in trap of being a political party loyalist or a leader-worshipper... A must read for every human being who is still human in these times of bigotry... 'My Seditious Heart' is a reminder to introspect every time you find yourself going with the flow of popular single dimensional views, with no appetite to see a problem from all sides... This is a book not to be missed...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nausheen

    A thorough look, since 1998 and before, at what is happening in India today, how it started, and how it's been supported by the US. "There will not always be spectacular carnage to report on. Fascism is also about the slow, steady infiltration of all the instruments of state power. It's about the slow erosion of civil liberties, about unspectacular day-to-day injustices." A thorough look, since 1998 and before, at what is happening in India today, how it started, and how it's been supported by the US. "There will not always be spectacular carnage to report on. Fascism is also about the slow, steady infiltration of all the instruments of state power. It's about the slow erosion of civil liberties, about unspectacular day-to-day injustices."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    Really opened my eyes to the atrocities governments still commit on people. A troubling book that is best read in small doses.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    “The American Way of Life is simply not sustainable. Because it doesn’t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America.” Where I find that Roy stands out from so many other contemporary political writes is her talent for clarity and concision on most matters, this allows her message to be so much more compelling and relatable. She is a bold and brave campaigner and activist as well as writer, and hailing from a country where millions of women are too often viewed closer to property and in some “The American Way of Life is simply not sustainable. Because it doesn’t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America.” Where I find that Roy stands out from so many other contemporary political writes is her talent for clarity and concision on most matters, this allows her message to be so much more compelling and relatable. She is a bold and brave campaigner and activist as well as writer, and hailing from a country where millions of women are too often viewed closer to property and in some cases below cattle in the pecking order, her voice is all the more vital. “According to the State, when victims refuse to be victims they become terrorists and are dealt with as such.” Political greed and corruption take up most of Roy’s energy here, but she also gives plenty of air time to Kashmir, Islamophobia and the Dalits and Ambadkar. There were many areas which really drew me in, but one of her more impressive pieces, was surely her tackling the myth and revisionism surrounding Gandhi. “At no point in his political career did he ever seriously criticize or confront an Indian industrialist or the landed aristocracy.” She states and goes to add some other little nuggets such as his belief that Indians should be treated better than the natives when he was living in South Africa. She makes a point of reminding us that he was sponsored by a mill owner too, as well as many other memorable and bizarre quotes which throw-up many questions and contradictions. “Almost unconsciously, we begin to think of justice for the rich and powerful and human rights for the poor.” India is a nation which has more poor people than 26 of Africa’s poorest countries put together and yet it still managed to spend around $2 billion on an election. Something somewhere has clearly gone very wrong. “To produce 1 ton of aluminum, you need about 6 tons of bauxite, more than 1,000 tons of water, and a massive amount of electricity…Last of all-the big question-what is the aluminum for? Where is it going? Aluminum is the principal ingredient in the weapons industry.” She focuses much attention on the Hindu right and the relentless avarice that drives them, the millions of displaced minorities and the oppressive conditions which keep them down, and how so many have to suffer or die in order for the corporations and conglomerates to chase gross profits at any cost, tearing up huge amounts of land and polluting vast areas of it too. “Free Speech has been substituted by the doctrine of Free If You Agree Speech.” At one point when talking about the extremist violence in India, she refers to religion as the lowest common denominator, adding, “Being made to feel proud of something. Not something they have striven for or achieved, not something they can count as a personal accomplishment, but something they just happen to be” “Let’s all suffer forever. Let’s buy expensive guns and explosives to kill each other with. Let the British arms dealers and the American weapons manufacturers grow fat on our spilled blood.” “Come September” builds a great case against US foreign policy and the narcissism of the US She touches upon their troubling support of Israel, which as well as supporting them politically, it also supplies several billions of dollars every year. “When Israel attacks Palestine, it is American missiles that smash through Palestinian homes.” “Why do we tolerate them? Why do we tolerate the men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?” Roy certainly never shies away from telling it like it is, and there are many truly disturbing accounts retold in here, as offensive and barbaric as anything you’ll read from any war or genocide. The sheer inhumanity and horror that so many have inflicted upon their fellow countrymen is terrifying. It is even more disturbing when we realise how often the guilty get away with and profit from them. “Palestine and Kashmir are imperial Britain’s festering blood-drenched gifts to the modern world. Both are fault lines in the raging international conflicts of today.” Criticisms I would level at this collection, would be the occasional repetition of articles, stories or themes which gets annoying, but this tends to be a common problem with anthologies like this. Also if like me, you don’t have a first rate grasp of contemporary Indian politics and most of the main players, parties and sagas and dramas they have been involved in, then this can feel hard to get into in parts. But aside from these two gripes this remains a stand-out collection and illustrates why Roy remains one of the most vital and compelling voices out there today and in her stronger moments she shows flashes of brilliance, cutting wit and a vast intellect. We see many disturbing examples of how India can be one of the most brutal, savage and unforgivable places on earth. One thing is for sure that after reading this you cannot and will not be able to look at India and its politics in quite the same way again. A.A. Gill once wrote that to be born an Italian man was to have won the lottery of life or words to that effect…I wonder what he would say about what it means to be born a woman into the Indian Sub-continent?...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rajdeep

    Wow wow wow wow wow! A thoroughly depressing book about the various social injustices of the past two decades. The depth of evidence she provides in her essays is absolutely astounding and that makes it such a compelling read. Stylistically, her writing is similar to Chomsky, and like Chomsky, she is very clever at putting the pieces together and deducing a pattern from them. Our institutions are severely coerced by major corporations and all this is happening under the cloak of democracy. The 'fr Wow wow wow wow wow! A thoroughly depressing book about the various social injustices of the past two decades. The depth of evidence she provides in her essays is absolutely astounding and that makes it such a compelling read. Stylistically, her writing is similar to Chomsky, and like Chomsky, she is very clever at putting the pieces together and deducing a pattern from them. Our institutions are severely coerced by major corporations and all this is happening under the cloak of democracy. The 'free market' conditions set up by neoliberalism are no different from those in the colonial times. The Indian elite have swooped the positions held by the British imperialists while the poor still remain in the servile state. This has been achieved by design and not by chance. I'm reminded when Chomsky said that Kissinger knows what's up and there is no point barking the truth at him. What we can do is provide evidence to the people so they could see the truth and this book does that brilliantly.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek Singh

    This one is the latest addition in the Arundhati Roy book collection. This book consists of essays of the journey of Arundhati Roy from winning the Booker prize for The God of Small Things to the amazing book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. This book consists of 20 years of Arundhati Roy. Checkout this article i found online about 10 Best Arundhati Roy Books. https://dailybugle.in/best-arundhati-... This one is the latest addition in the Arundhati Roy book collection. This book consists of essays of the journey of Arundhati Roy from winning the Booker prize for The God of Small Things to the amazing book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. This book consists of 20 years of Arundhati Roy. Checkout this article i found online about 10 Best Arundhati Roy Books. https://dailybugle.in/best-arundhati-...

  17. 5 out of 5

    DIlp

    this is more like a rant of of a Self declared maoist painting a picture of despair and doom an alien visiting the earth with no prior contact to humans would be made to believe maoists are the pure of heart.luckily for us mere mortals this is a laughing stock.the sole group she can relate to are ..you guessed it right ...maoists the narmada bachao andolan can be understood and there is definitely merit in her stand.but it ends there.her sympathy for terrorists induces vomit below are some of the c this is more like a rant of of a Self declared maoist painting a picture of despair and doom an alien visiting the earth with no prior contact to humans would be made to believe maoists are the pure of heart.luckily for us mere mortals this is a laughing stock.the sole group she can relate to are ..you guessed it right ...maoists the narmada bachao andolan can be understood and there is definitely merit in her stand.but it ends there.her sympathy for terrorists induces vomit below are some of the cringe worthy statements in her magnum opus: Naxals make mistakes are not looked upon for number os people they let go but by ones they kill...hmmm naxals keep dreams alive for all apparently lalu prasad praised for anti hindutva is laughable..same person who stole cattle fodder from the masses godhra massacre is lacking evidence but not the post godhra riots these riots were genocide but kashmiri pandits episode were not a genocide but exodus suicide bombing is act of personal despair...wth many parts of india are not under government control she cherishes iraqi museum loot that happened post saddam 'sz fall is part is part of people acting irresponsible.taliban had destroyed buddha statues in the same fashion......see a connection? Army is made of poor people is her observation she asks out aloud....What needs to be done and answers it herself "terrorism doesn't work.". advocating terrorism eh? electoral democracy has become a process of cynical manipulation people trapped between terrorists and security forces per her.what is the recommendation let terrorists have their way? afzal guru was a pawn per her and was needed to be uncover other details per her..terrorism is part of life? her musings about a dead terrorist while she has condemned a single language initiative i couldn't help laugh a praise of maoists who talks Hindi among themselves as they speak various languages Hindi, Malayalam.etc. arguing for the sake of it and having a different set of principles for her comrades is one thing arundhati is adept at.this book is more like a dictionary of twisted facts for budding maoists!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hornthesecond

    I feel I've learned a lot from reading this book, although, of course, all from the perspective of a single author. At the start I would probably have been surprised if you'd told me that I would read 860+ pages of essays about the political situation in India since about 2000 and still be interested to read more. I would be especially interested to read an update, by the same author, on the situations and cases documented in the essays. I also wish I'd written down more quotations on the way th I feel I've learned a lot from reading this book, although, of course, all from the perspective of a single author. At the start I would probably have been surprised if you'd told me that I would read 860+ pages of essays about the political situation in India since about 2000 and still be interested to read more. I would be especially interested to read an update, by the same author, on the situations and cases documented in the essays. I also wish I'd written down more quotations on the way through. Both the subject matter covered and the style with which Roy writes were of great interest to me. In places the writing is really quite beautiful even though there didn't seem to be all that much good news in the essays. In other places the criticism of politicians is concise but effective. Humour is sometimes used to excellent effect in criticism. Some of the essays felt a bit like a masterclass in how to present a political argument. The political perspective feels very consistent given the length of time over which the essays were written. Mostly the writing seemed to be documenting and protesting injustices or bad situations - so maybe not a book to read if you're depressed or just low. The essay comparing Dr. Ambedkar and Mohandes Gandhi was particularly interesting. Other highlights for me were the essays about: the threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan after Indian nuclear tests; time spent in the forest getting to know Maoist rebels; and the attack on the Indian Parliament and the subsequent miscarriage of justice. I think readers who enjoyed Roy's novels and who are curious about India, and particularly Indian politics, should certainly try reading this book. Those with very right-wing political views and/or strong supporters of recent Indian governments might find it a challenging read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ankita

    Well, this is a deceptive book; prima facie, it appears like a never-ending rant about everything the author could spot. However, a closer inspection along with a serious reading reveals that she actually uncovers sinister secrets and untold facts deliberately hidden from the public view. This is not a fun book full of purple prose; the sarcastic and incisive writing betrays the deep resentment of the author and her fury towards a constant and ruthless exploitation of the poor people and that of Well, this is a deceptive book; prima facie, it appears like a never-ending rant about everything the author could spot. However, a closer inspection along with a serious reading reveals that she actually uncovers sinister secrets and untold facts deliberately hidden from the public view. This is not a fun book full of purple prose; the sarcastic and incisive writing betrays the deep resentment of the author and her fury towards a constant and ruthless exploitation of the poor people and that of natural resources by those in power and those funding those in power. It directly attacks governments, left, right and center and the huge MNC cartels hell bent on usurping poor man's land and food. There are many articles about Narmada Andolan, Enron and other issues. 'The Great Indian Rape Trick- I & II' describes the obnoxiousness and selfishness of Bollywood bigwigs when it comes to selling a personal tragedy in the form of a movie. I felt really bad for Phoolan Devi. The author analyzes Shekhar Kapoor's 'Bandit Queen' in a whole new light. My suggestion is that everyone must read this book. It strips all the pleasant lies and shows how ugly the real face of our system has become. Kudos to Ms. Roy for writing such a book with an admirable honestly and bravery! she has always been my fav!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A vital read. Written with the incisive force of an investigative citizen journalist intimately connected to the groundwork of facts, tangled as they are with the global currents which operate upon them, invisible to most, from the stratosphere. Penned with the urgency of love and despair, and couched in the deconstructing oratorical power of poetry. If your interest is in the politics and ethics of nationalism, globalisation, ecology and its ruination against the false binary of progress, read A vital read. Written with the incisive force of an investigative citizen journalist intimately connected to the groundwork of facts, tangled as they are with the global currents which operate upon them, invisible to most, from the stratosphere. Penned with the urgency of love and despair, and couched in the deconstructing oratorical power of poetry. If your interest is in the politics and ethics of nationalism, globalisation, ecology and its ruination against the false binary of progress, read the entire book. If you have any interest in biographical art in which the lives and stories of people are 'translated' to book or screen, read the last two essays on the film Bandit Queen and the person - Phoolan Devi - whose story it claims to narrate. You may quibble at the repetitions inevitable in a collection of essays which span years and were published individually into different papers and collections for audiences continents apart. Roy herself acknowledges this shortcoming, and explains that a key decision was to leave the works unedited despite the passing decades since their authorship. The original nature of each essay only adds to the sense of necessity of reading them now. Their impact is undiminished. They shock with the alarm of the relevant, not the morbid curiosity of the past.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jedd Ong

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting read. Densely packed in equal measure with legalese, government statistics, bureaucratic hems and haws, and unflinching tales of struggle and survival amongst India's indigenous communities, human rights activists, revolutionaries, etc. Not by any means an academic book, nor a definitive "People's History" of India. Perhaps the best way to appreciate this collection of essays is to understand it in terms of the margins — of the plays (re)-enacted by the Naxali Beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting read. Densely packed in equal measure with legalese, government statistics, bureaucratic hems and haws, and unflinching tales of struggle and survival amongst India's indigenous communities, human rights activists, revolutionaries, etc. Not by any means an academic book, nor a definitive "People's History" of India. Perhaps the best way to appreciate this collection of essays is to understand it in terms of the margins — of the plays (re)-enacted by the Naxalite-affiliated and mining company-afflicted indigenous tribes, of the stories and characters behind the slogans in the Narmada Valley, young comrades sheepishly eating bananas in the shade, eagerly awaiting the appearance of journalists to whom they can share their homes and histories with, Ambedkar's three piece suits. "When I looked back, they were still there. Waving. A little knot. People who live with their dreams, while the rest of the world lives with its nightmares.” (Arundhati Roy, "Walking with the Naxalites").

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cody

    A lyrical and incisive cataloging of progress, oppression, and nationalism, Arundhati Roy has spent the past 25 years tracing the rise of a global fascism cloaked by the "free" market. If only more of us had been listening. So, what is to be done? We can follow Roy's lead, tirelessly bearing witness, gathering evidence, and speaking out. And let's not forget to celebrate the "small" things, for in these local, hand drawn, and often messy and imperfect expressions, interactions, experiences, and A lyrical and incisive cataloging of progress, oppression, and nationalism, Arundhati Roy has spent the past 25 years tracing the rise of a global fascism cloaked by the "free" market. If only more of us had been listening. So, what is to be done? We can follow Roy's lead, tirelessly bearing witness, gathering evidence, and speaking out. And let's not forget to celebrate the "small" things, for in these local, hand drawn, and often messy and imperfect expressions, interactions, experiences, and artifacts are to be found true meaning, wonder, and freedom. At a time when opportunism is everything, when hope seems lost, when everything boils down to a cynical business deal, we must find the courage to dream. To reclaim romance. The romance of believing in justice, in freedom, and in dignity. For everybody.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eric Rickert

    The clarity, the gravity, the studiousness, and the holism of Roy's writing is staggering. Every essay in this book is so sobering, and yet the sentence by sentence assemblage is almost effervescent. Here's a surmised gem from the most well-known (IMO) essay: "The only dream worth having: to dream that you will live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead. To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of li The clarity, the gravity, the studiousness, and the holism of Roy's writing is staggering. Every essay in this book is so sobering, and yet the sentence by sentence assemblage is almost effervescent. Here's a surmised gem from the most well-known (IMO) essay: "The only dream worth having: to dream that you will live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead. To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sujata

    I liked that the essays were mostly placed in chronological order, or in some order of topic, it was a good flow. There is some repetition of ideas and frameworks when reading them all together but that's only to be expected. Worth a read especially for some past context of current situation and horribleness in India....and the US. I liked that the essays were mostly placed in chronological order, or in some order of topic, it was a good flow. There is some repetition of ideas and frameworks when reading them all together but that's only to be expected. Worth a read especially for some past context of current situation and horribleness in India....and the US.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I hadn’t really thought about this book as a collection of previously published works (many of which I had already read). This sweeps across 20 years of Roy’s work (which is great work). I had to remind myself that I was making progress as I slowly ready this 800+ page book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Benja

    4.5. she is so smart. I don't know all of the intricacies of Indian politics and history so some of that was lost on me but was still easy enough to follow. the essays on imperialism / globalism / USA / lefty-politics were great. 4.5. she is so smart. I don't know all of the intricacies of Indian politics and history so some of that was lost on me but was still easy enough to follow. the essays on imperialism / globalism / USA / lefty-politics were great.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arijit Gayen

    Finally completed this book of essays and I can safely say I'm petrified. Each one of the many pieces in this composition puts into perspective the entire social structure, the various facets of it. Everyone should read this book, more so if you are a citizen of the Indian State. Finally completed this book of essays and I can safely say I'm petrified. Each one of the many pieces in this composition puts into perspective the entire social structure, the various facets of it. Everyone should read this book, more so if you are a citizen of the Indian State.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This compiles Roy's speeches and essays over a period of 20 years. She's such a beautiful writer that the speeches were a bit disappointing. The Doctor and the Saint, about Ghandi and Ambedkar, is amazingly thorough and a good companion to Isabel Wilkerson's Caste. This compiles Roy's speeches and essays over a period of 20 years. She's such a beautiful writer that the speeches were a bit disappointing. The Doctor and the Saint, about Ghandi and Ambedkar, is amazingly thorough and a good companion to Isabel Wilkerson's Caste.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    4* The God of Small Things 3* The Ministry of Utmost Happiness TR My Seditious Heart: Collected Nonfiction

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Boyte

    Arundhati Roy is a brilliant writer, and weapon on the side of the oppressed.

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