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The beautiful novelist Arundhati’s in town

world Updated: Jun 07, 2011 00:05 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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Indian novelist Arundhati Roy has been in London this past week. Indian I say with caution — because she’s been reminding Britons that she doesn’t believe in the state.

As in India Roy gets celebrity treatment here.

With stylised diction and a fetching American twang, she railed against the Indian rich and middle classes on BBC, turning television’s Grand Inquisitor Jeremy Paxman uncharacteristically emollient and coy. So are you returning to fiction, he asked. “I’m trying to… I’m trying to,” Roy explained with a smile.

“Well, you know… I mean, unfortunately, one is living in a situation of such urgency, such emergency. There are hundreds of people in jail; there are people being killed all the time. It’s like a civil war there, and for me it’s very hard to take a careerist position and say, ‘Oh I must write my next novel.’ I’d love to, but it’s not entirely in my hands what’s going on there.”

A couple of days later, a Guardian interview and the same question. Arundhati would not say what her second novel is about: “Fiction is too beautiful to be about just one thing. It should be about everything.”

There are many other things that Roy graces with the same adjective.

In a two-page article she wrote for The Guardian last year about her travels among tribals and Maoists in the Dandakarnya forests, she uses the words ‘beautiful’ or ‘beauty’ no less than nine times.

After the expected beautiful day, the word jumped up unexpectedly in all sorts of places. There they were, “three beautiful, sozzled men with flowers in their turbans.”

The house she enters is beautiful. The room is the “most beautiful” she has ever slept in. She is surrounded by these “strange, beautiful children.” She comes across “the most wild, beautiful people, dressed in the most wild, beautiful ways.”

A Guardian reader responded to Monday’s interview: “Go on arundhati you’re a beautiful person and (the) god of small things was a beautiful book.” All this just when Sir Vidia trashes the “sentimental tosh” of women writers.