by Mala Pandurang
Arundhati Roy. Critical Perspectives. (ed.) Murari Prasad. New Delhi : Pencraft International. New Orientations Series. 2006. 211 pages. Rs 450.
This volume is a competently edited collection of eleven qualitative essays that focus on Arundhati Roy’s engagements with intersecting discourses of postcolonialism, globlization, anti-capitalism and feminism.
The contributions can be divided into two categories. First, those offering multiple perspectives of Roy ‘s only novel, The God of Small Things – beginning with Aijaz Ahmad’s oft quoted response to GOST that first appeared in Frontline in 1997. While Ahmed accepts that ‘the ideology of form’ is Roy ‘s strength, he critiques her ‘ideological opposition to communism’ as fraught with complications. Campbell-Hall presents a comparative study of the textual representative of skilled labour in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost and GOST and suggests that the text offers alternate post colonial identities through the dalit artisan characters; Alex Tickell analyses the scene of the family in their sky-blue Plymouth as a ‘fitting analogy for the creative situation of the post colonial author’; Antonio Navarro-Tejero focuses on the signification of the ‘factory’ in the novel in the context of the ‘decadence of domestic business as modernization and capitalism takes over’; and Madhu Benoit analyses the consequence of the ‘metatemporal narrative mode.’ The essay I particularly enjoyed reading was Brinda Bose’s reading of the construction of the erotic in GOST. Bose counters Aijaz Ahmad’s critique of Roy ‘s political positioning by suggesting that ‘ one’s personal politics is after as extension of one’s position’, and therefore ‘ a politics of desire could be considered as viable as a politics as any other’.