Monday, February 15, 2010

Review of Arundhati Roy's political essays

"Listening to the Grass Hoppers: Field Notes on Democracy" is Arundhati Roy's latest compilation of political essays presented in a book. This is my second reading of her compilations after "Algebra of Infinite Justice". Both these books consist of essays written by her over a period of time on subjects ranging from Narmada Dam, Gujrat Riots, Pokhran Tests to America's war against terror.

We are, often to our ignorance, fed with news which are manipulated and which are aimed at creating a public conscience over something for the benefit of some particular groups. Very often, we get carried away by the public sentiments and create opinions which are ill informed (after reading the essays, you will realize that even courts get carried away by these things). In this era of 24 hours news channels, its impossible to know which news to trust and which not to. Through these essays (which contain proper citations), she has tried to make public aware of the happenings from which we are otherwise insulated.

Arundhati Roy in the past has been criticised for what people perceive as cynicism, over exaggeration and irrationality. I for one don't know how much exaggeration is there in her books but I personally feel that it is sometimes required to raise issues which need to be brought to the public attention. The so called irrationality arises from the fact that she has an objective opinion and she gives a third party perspective to the things. This is something which remains elusive to most of us given the deeply etched associations and opinions that we hold.

Most of the times, her essays have left me cynical about the future of our great country (and the cynicism has just not been created for selling more books) but the fact that still there are people which are resisting the suppression(I am talking not just about her but also about the groups and people mentioned in her essays) is the silver lighning in the dark cloud. The essays are a great read and the product of the immense knowledge that she possesses and her first hand experiences because of her personal involvements and once you are finished reading them, you will definitely feel better informed.


†J said...

Wish I had the patience and nerves to read political essays. Didn't like them in skool too.

But, I love to see them on screen, and with the Indian movie scene getting more experimental, such off-beat stuff is readily available to cadre to my tastes.

You, surely did have a great read. :-)

A Neophyte said...

Yaar, movie can never substitute books in the range and depth of subjects which they cover..

Moreover, movies had to cater to the popular demands because of the high budgets involved in making them..

I wud still recommend u to read these book any time u get a chance..