Arundhati Roy, author, activist, and radical is heading stateside for two rare appearances next week in New York City, following the release of her new collection of essays “Walking with the Comrades” (which FS will be reviewing shortly).

Since the release of “God of Small Things“, her Booker-Prize winning sole work of Fiction, she’s been writing political journalism about her native India, most recently about the ongoing development and devastation of its interior jungles. Roy was alarmed at the announcement of a large-scale offensive by Indian security forces, “Operation Green Hunt”, which targets  the inhabitants of the jungles that sit atop vast natural resources. The areas of Lalgargh, Jharkland, Chhattigarh, and Orissa, home to Maoist (the insurgent movement in the area) and non-Maoist alike, are the victims of orders to remove or destroy anyone who stands in the way of development.

Sensing that no one was accurately reporting on the realities of the war zones, Roy decided to go into them herself. In an interview with The Paris Review, she reflects on this decision:

“When I went into the forest, one of the things that struck me was that Gandhian nonviolence can be a very effective form of political theater but it can’t succeed without an audience. So whether it’s the occupation of Wall Street or somewhere in India, it has to have an audience. Deep inside these forests there was no one to bear witness.”

She addresses her life as a writer of political non-fiction,

“The dilemma for the writer, I think, is how to spend your life honing your individual voice and then, at times like this, to declare it from the heart of a crowd. That tension, that balance, is something I think about quite often.”

And she provides some hope for those waiting on her second novel,

“Fiction is such an amorphous thing, you can’t be sure that you’re doing something important or wonderful until you’ve done it. So, because of the position I am in now, to work on fiction I have to create some sort of steel barriers around it. Fiction is something that involves so much gentleness, so much tenderness, that it keeps gettingcrushed under the weight of everything else! I still haven’t figured it out entirely—but I will, I will.”

Tickets for the event at the CUNY Graduate Center are sold out, but you can still buy tickets for the event at the Asia Society. 

Become a Patron!

This post may contain affiliate links.