Read Newsday's new rave review of Field Notes on Democracy
FIELD NOTES ON DEMOCRACY: Listening to Grasshoppers, by Arundhati Roy. Haymarket Books, 230 pp., $20.
Arundhati Roy is the conscience of her country. She has used her international fame as a novelist ("The God of Small Things") to speak and write about justice and political vision in India and around the world. This collection of essays goes back to 1989, when India aligned itself wholeheartedly with the United States to embrace nationalism and development, "those unimpeachable twin towers of modern, free-market democracy.
Both of these in their extreme form, are, as we now know, encrypted with the potential of bringing about ultimate, apocalyptic destruction (nuclear war, climate change)."
Roy has written movingly for decades about the displacement of Indians in the name of progress - 30 million taken from their homes so the government could build dams. She writes about the war in Kashmir and about the economic and political changes in what she calls "counterfeit" India: the squeaky clean Bollywood. "Can we not find it in ourselves to belong to an ancient civilization," she writes, "instead of to just a recent nation? To love a land instead of just patrolling a territory?"
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