War Talk by Arundhati Roy is a collection of political essays by an Indian woman who is controversial, possibly because she knows how to speak her mind in an intellectual manner. Her essays are well-supported, with frequent footnotes, and whether you agree with her contentions she never falls into citing a statistic or quote a speech without offering evidence that she is not making arguments that are not rooted in reality. And anyone who is not alarmed by privatization and corporatization hasn’t paid attention to the effects of colonialism and imperialism throughout history.
I found her essays fascinating although I don’t presume she speaks for every Muslim Indian citizen nor Indian women let alone every Indian citizen. For me, the weakest essay in the collection was on Roy wrote as an introduction for Noam Chomsky’s For Reasons of State. The rest, however, are clear and precise, passionate without becoming either sentimental or vitriolic. While some may deny the statements she makes, especially when she addresses herself beyond Indian politics, it would only suggest an ignorance rather than a legitimate refutation. In the end, it is a matter of agreeing to disagree, in face of evidence that is, as I’ve said, well-supported.
I’ll likely add all of her books to my Neverending-to-be-Read-Book-List. Whether I agree or not, I feel that reading her essays is a provocative challenge to understanding what we believe about the political situation here and abroad.