The novelist who is the conscience of India
In early 1996, Arundhati Roy, then a screenwriter in Delhi, called me to say that she had written a novel. I can still remember my first enraptured reading of The God of Small Things. The novel seemed, in its evocations of the beauty and terror of life, its radical distrust of power, reflexive hatred of injustice and effervescent humor, almost miraculous. More remarkably, Roy’s subsequent nonfictional engagement with the conflicts and traumas of a heedlessly globalized world has manifested the virtues of an unflinching emotional as well as political intelligence. Her lucid and probing essays offer sharp insights on a range of matters, from crony capitalism and environmental depredation to the perils of nationalism and, in her most recent work, the insidiousness of the Hindu caste system. In an age of intellectual logrolling and mass-manufactured infotainment, she continues to offer bracing ways of seeing, thinking and feeling.
Mishra’s latest book is A Great Clamour: Encounters With China and Its Neighbours