Adil Jussawalla’s essays and entertainments sparkle with a poet’s insight and an editor’s sweep of knowledge: The Hindu

adil.jussawalaThe journalistic obsession with international reputations and publishers’ advances has produced a top-heavy history of India’s literature in English. Such well-remunerated figures as Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth and Arundhati Roy are in fact exceptions. Once we get away from the bestsellers and prize-winners, Indian English literature turns out to be an embattled, minority literature. It relies for its survival on a small number of publishers and its most original writers are constantly in danger of being forgotten.

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The Booker prize-winning author on her essay The Doctor and the Saint and more: Interview in The Outlook

arundhati_roy_20140310.jpgThe Doctor and the Saint, your introduction to this new, annotated edition of Dr Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, is also a deeply disturbing critique of Gandhi, especially to those of us for whom Gandhi is a loved and revered figure.

Yes, I know. It wasn’t easy to write it either. But in these times, when all of us are groping in the dark, despairing, and unable to understand why things are the way they are, I think revisiting this debate between Gandhi and Ambedkar, however disturbing it may be for some people, however much it disrupts old and settled patterns of thought, will actually, in the end, help illuminate our path. I think Annihilation of Caste is absolutely essential reading. Caste is at the heart of the rot in our society. Quite apart from what it has done to the subordinated castes, it has corroded the moral core of the privileged castes. We need Ambedkar—now, urgently.

by Fakrul Alam

An ordinary person’s guide to empire. Arundhati Roy. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2005.

It must have been in 1997—around the time when Arundhati Roy was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for her first and only novel The God of Small Things — that I saw her on BBC’s “Hardtalk”. The man who was hosting the show then, he with the walrus smile, beamed a question at Roy that he no doubt felt had to be answered: “And so what is your next novel going to be about?” I remember Roy, at first glance waif-like but really self-assured and full of charm that she exudes without trying, smiling and shooting back his question at him: “But what makes you think I will write another novel? I may never write fiction again. If I write anything, it will be on something that I feel strongly about. And that may be anything other than fiction.”