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Arundhati Roy

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Books in the times of jihad

sibf2After a hiatus of nearly a decade, I found myself in the United Arab Emirates, also popularly imagined as ‘Dubai’ in Pakistan. I was traveling with a group of Pakistani writers, poets and photographers to attend the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). I had been visiting the various UAE airports in transits over the last many years but never knew how this country, prospering with petrol dollars and supported by hardworking South Asian labour, had turned into a kind of modern paradise of consumerism, success and gold. More importantly, the UAE is now a melting port of various nationalities and cultures – a bit of a contradiction, given the puritanical reputation of Saudi Arabia and the historical narrations of Arab supremacy over the non-Arabs.

It was both exciting and disconcerting: displays of capitalist victories, thousands of poor South Asian workers, yet the promise of services, multiculturalism and some measure of tolerance. Perhaps these changing dynamics of the Emirati society are linked to events such as SIBF – a huge, multitudinous, undertaking involving 140 international publishers, agents and related crew, and for the first time, writers from South Asia. Sharjah’s ruler, Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qassimi, is a unique Arab ruler for his interest in books and investments in publishing industry are rare traits in an Arab monarch. I trust that the Sheikh holds a doctorate and is an avid reader himself. I could not help wondering if he would have some positive influence on our ruling elites, whose relationship with books is far from enviable. The SIBF was held at the humungous Sharjah Expo Centre – a post post-modern building, with an amorphous architectural identity, but lots of space accommodating over 600,000 visitors of nearly all the nationalities that live in the UAE. South Asia and Pakistan received a special focus, and a brilliant ensemble of Pakistani writers attended the 10-day long festival at different occasions. […]

December 20th, 2012|Arts & Culture, books, Culture, Published in The Friday Times|0 Comments

Media and mobs – Arundhati Roy versus the terrorists

Arundhati Roy is the conscience of India. Her treatment by a greedy media playing the tunes of fundamentalists is deplorable and condemnable. Roy’s statement issued a day before says it all. As she writes, RSS is trying to deflect attention from the terrorists who attempted to blow up the shrine at Ajmer Sharif. What is wrong with these psychotic militants across South Asia. Sufis were hardly contested in the worst of times but we are living in an age where any message of peace, pluralism and tolerance is a threat to exclusivist ideologies. We cannot be silent about it.

A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson.

The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing). […]

November 2nd, 2010|India|15 Comments

9 Is Not 11

I am completely under the spell of this fabulous piece of writing, brutally honest and eminently sensible.

essay: terror in mumbai

9 Is Not 11

(And November isn’t September)

ARUNDHATI ROY

We ‘ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11”. And like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn’t act fast to arrest the ‘Bad Guys’ he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on ‘terrorist camps’ in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11.

But November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions. […]

December 14th, 2008|Personal|12 Comments

Hating Arundhati Roy

Why We Love To Hate Ms RoySaba Naqvi on Arundhati Roy (OUTLOOK)

Arundhati Roy certainly has a stomach for controversy. By writing several articles and providing an introduction to a book defending Mohammad Afzal Guru (13 Dec, A Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament), the main accused in the December 13, 2001, attack on the Indian Parliament, she has stuck her neck out again. Ever since the lady made her views on the matter public, many furious friends have called. “Who does that woman think she is?” they have thundered, accusing her of “passing off conspiracy theories as investigations”. As far as they are concerned, Roy should be the first citizen in their rogue’s gallery of ‘anti-national’ elements. No other writer inspires as much anger and mountains of hate mail to publications where she writes as this ‘petite woman’. […]

September 3rd, 2008|India, Personal, South Asian Literature|9 Comments

Kashmir,Azadi and Arundhati Roy

UPDATE from SAJA Forum, articles, news and comments here

UPDATE: Arundhati’s brutally frank piece where she asks this question:

The unimaginable sums of public money that are needed to keep the military occupation of Kashmir going is money that ought by right to be spent on schools and hospitals and food for an impoverished, malnutritioned population in India. What kind of government can possibly believe that it has the right to spend it on more weapons, more concertina wire and more prisons in Kashmir?

India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India. […]

August 19th, 2008|India, Politics|136 Comments