Monday, November 8, 2010

Middle-class Indians might hate Arundhati Roy, but shutting her out would leave us a poorer society. Shoma Chaudhury explains why

From the moment The God of Small Things was published, Roy was deemed the chosen one. As the successes of the book piled up — the huge advances, the translations in 40 languages, and finally the Booker (the first time any resident Indian had won it) — it was a done deal: Arundhati Roy was India’s triumphant entry on the global stage. She was the princess at the ball. If she had stuck to script, Roy would have remained the celebrated first of a series of triumphant notes: Aishwarya Rai winning Miss World, Tatas taking over Jaguar, Indian billionaires making the top of Fortune 500 lists, an awesome 8 percent growth and a burgeoning consumer class. The India Shining story was all stitched up. Everyone was raising a toast. No one could have anticipated that the princess would strike the gong even before the midnight hour. Willfully bust the party. Pick open the seams of the gown. Show the chariot for a pumpkin. Smash the glass slipper. But that is what she did. In May 1998, barely a few months into her Booker win, India tested the nuclear bomb. In August, Roy wrote The End of Imagination, an angry impassioned critique of the bomb, her first piece of writing after the novel.

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