Arundhati Roy follows Sartre

Ever since Roy won the Booker for "The God of Small Things," fans have been wanting more fiction. She´s been heading resoluting in another direction, though, one of nonfiction and political activism. (Although she admits to working on another novel). She now has four books of essays out.

In a Guardian interview, she explains her political activism, which is comparable to Jean-Paul Sartre´s notion of committed literature, that literature needs to have political impact to have value (and he wrote his Roads to Freedom trilogy to back up that notion).

In her latest book, "Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy" Roy denounces what Indian politicians call "India Shining":

Roy sees [India Shining] as the destruction for multinational corporate profit of
everything that her nation should care about. Her book begins with a
question: "Is there life after democracy?" and goes on to count the
ways that successive Indian governments and businessmen have waged a
repressive war on the poor and on minorities, and have pursued
devastating environmental destruction for economic and political gain.

Roy blames this political activism on the worldwide surprise success of "The God of Small Things":

"The prize," she says now, "was actually responsible in many ways for
my political activism. I won this thing and I was suddenly the darling
of the new emerging Indian middle class – they needed a princess. They
had the wrong woman. I had this light shining on me at the time, and I
knew that I had the stage to say something about what was happening in
my country. What is exciting about what I have done since is that
writing has become a weapon, some kind of ammunition."
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One thought on “Arundhati Roy follows Sartre

  1. robot books says:

    “…literature needs to have political impact to have value…” I think this idea is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing this article.

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