I just finished reading Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” – which I remember hearing of when it was published 7 years ago, but never got around to look at. Since then, I’ve tried reading Salman Rushdie’s rather daunting prose (both Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses) but developed an intense dislike to his self-pompous style and wit that almost ruined the world of Indian story-telling for me.
Luckily, Arundhati Roy makes up for that. Her book has the same magically poetic qualities and emotional intensity as Gabriel García Marquez’ books, but in a more dreamy, airy fashion that is quite unlike the concreteness of the slowly unfolding that characterizes those of Marquez’ stories that I’ve read. Both authors carry the rare gift of both being able to describe the hopeful beauty of mankind in the midst of all that hurt and discord that tend to appear wherever we look.
I won’t try to tell the story of the book, since, as it usually is with that kind of stories, it appears deceptibly simple, but carries a fair bit of extra weight when you read it. The slow weight of the situation unfolding in the mind of the reader. But just recommend it as it was recommended to me: A book of common humanity whose beauty is as much in its faults as in the areas where it succeeds. A rare thing is a book that is aware of its own faults.
Even so, I was surprised to find in my intellectual magazine of choice a passionate speech that Arundhati Roy held in San Francisco last year on the question of “Public Power in the Age of Empire”. I guess I’m showing off a certain amount of ignorance concerning the so-called anti-globalization movement of the last 10 years or so, but I wasn’t aware that ms. Roy was an active part in this. But not just that, she’s been awarded peace prizes, written hundreds of essays and generally been very political.
Though the speech doesn’t really offer a lot of answers and Roy sometimes lets her analysis give way for something more passionate, it does yield some interesting thoughts about how much civil influence there is in the world today, and how this influence can be expanded.