Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, Arundhati Roy (Haymarket) $20
Roy’s latest political writing, dedicated “To those who have learned to divorce hope from reason,” uses the contemporary politics of India, from the 2001 through 2008 state-backed Genocide against Muslims in Guharat to the 26 November 2008 Mumbai attacks, as a starting point for her political musings: offering a bleak but poetic analysis and simple, difficult solutions to world problems. In her introduction she writes,
As a writer, a fiction writer, I have often wondered whether the attempt to always be precise, to try and get it all factually right somehow reduces the epic scale of what is really going on. Does it eventually mask a larger truth? I worry that I am allowing myself to be railroaded into offering prosaic, factual precision when maybe what we need is a feral howl, or the transformative power and real precision of poetry.
Despite her own preoccupation, articulated above, Roy has managed to merge prosaic precision with “the real precision of poetry,” in the most literary political commentary in recent memory. Fans of Roy’s fiction complain too much: what she is writing now is at least and probably more exciting than the work that first garnished her acclaim.