Arundhati Roy Puts Literature at “Heart of the World”

sri lanka

By PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Arundhati Roy, who won the prestigious Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things and was also awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize, went public recently with a plea for world awareness of the deplorable situation in Sri Lanka. In a Guardian piece titled “This is not a war on terror. It is a racist war on all Tamils,” she wrote:

Given the scale of what is happening in Sri Lanka, the silence is inexcusable. More so because of the Indian government’s long history of irresponsible dabbling in the conflict, first taking one side and then the other.

Elsewhere, however, a different opinion was aired. From New Delhi, Durga Velautham opined that Arundhati Roy “went berserk like a lone elephant in musk… she skates on slick and slimy grounds… admiring killer viper.” And so on and so forth. That’s politics for you.

Let’s look back, to a 2004 interview conducted by Terrence McNally, who has written a boatload of plays and won an almost as considerable boatload of awards for it. He questioned Roy on the role of the global citizen; the theatrical aspect of civil disobedience (she was given a symbolic one-day prison term for contempt of court); and why the personal and the political can’t be separated. And why writing is important. “Isn’t literature supposed to be placed at the heart of the world?”

Roy will be one of the featured speakers and participants at the 2009 London Literature Festival, an event worth getting on a plane for. This year, it runs from July 2 to July 16. Also on the program is astronaut Buzz Aldrin, making his only public appearance in the UK to mark the 40th anniversary of humankind’s arrival on the moon. Plus, there will also be a speaker with the rather alarming title of Director of Liberty, and it’s too bad we don’t have time to track down exactly what that office entails.

SOURCE: ” This is not a war on terror. It is a racist war on all Tamils ” 04/01/09
photo courtesy of mckaysavage , used under this Creative Commons license

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