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Just finished reading “God of small things” for the millionth time today and experienced the same awe, respect and veneration for the author that is Arundhati Roy. Five years and many a reading later, I found myself transported to the lush greens of Kerala, felt the incessant rains tingling down my back, the political turmoil simmering in the background, the ideological clash of the bourgeois and the proletariat and the lost innocence of childhood. The sheer poetry of verse elucidated the grief of the story juxtaposed with ironic humour – an absolute delight.

Critics have repeatedly tried to compartmentalise Ms. Roy’s work under the ambit of ‘magical realism’. Even though its quite a compliment to be herded with literary giants such as Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ms. Roy has constantly been plagued by the reference of ‘enfant terrible’ of Indian literature due to her quite blatant political overtures, most noticeably the narmada bachao andolan and harsh criticism of capitalism and globalisation. While many a critic has termed her non-fiction works to be self indulgent and overly simplistic, I beg to differ. The works of Ms. Roy are evocative to the extent that they appeal to the deep seated conscience which we often unintentionally and otherwise wish to ignore. They point out the stark reality which is for all to see yet most turn a blind eye to it because it unnerves them, makes them uncomfortable. A couple of months back, she single headedly performed an impossible feat – she made the major political parties of the Indian Diaspora – be it leftist, rightist or opportunist stand up in unison in criticism of her views regarding the independence of Kashmir. Even though her views were endorsed by leading journalists like Vir Sanghvi and Jug Suraiya, Ms Roy bore the brunt of the political imbroglio.

Result – Its not fashionable to read or espouse Ms. Roy anymore, it is perceived as being politically incorrect. I choose to differ. While you may or may not choose to agree with her views, the courage and conviction of a woman who stands up for her beliefs and opinions, unfazed by criticism, vindication and personal attacks is praiseworthy. If criticising her just for the heck of it is being politically correct, I would be much obliged to be politically incorrect and rather proud of it if I may say so.

 


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