My Seditious Heart: Arundhati Roy at her most unflinching
Book review: An uncompromising collection of essays whose urgency is impossible to ignore
Arundhati Roy: not interested in giving space to those whose voices are already being heard. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty
For many readers, Arundhati Roy’s writing career is defined by a gap – the 20-year hiatus between her first and second novels. In 1997 Roy was a literary phenomenon. The God of Small Things had won the Booker Prize and the publishing world was enraptured with its new star. But the new star was less enraptured with her sudden fame – “the men in suits fawning” over her, the “shiny hotel bathrooms with endless towels”.
After a year of “cartwheeling around” with her book, she returned to Delhi and submerged herself in activism, speaking out against Indian nuclear tests, dam building, the military presence in Kashmir, the caste system and the coalescing of neoliberalism and Hindu nationalism.
Her next novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, wasn’t published until 2017 but during those two decades she kept writing – political essays, speeches, long-form journalism that got her into trouble and turned her into a hate figure for India’s right-wing establishment.