War talk

by Arundhati Roy

Paper Book, 2003


"Roy's new essay collection, War Talk, highlights the global rise of militarism and religious and racial violence. Against the backdrop of nuclear brinkmanship between India and Pakistan, the horrific massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, and U.S. demands for an ever-expanding war on terror, she calls into question the equation of nation and ethnicity."--BOOK JACKET.



Call number



Cambridge, Mass. : South End Press, c2003.

User reviews

LibraryThing member msbaba
War Talk by Arundhati Roy is a collection of six essays concerning the state of the world at the beginning of the 21st century. The first three were published in magazines in India and were written for the Indian audience. The fourth and sixth are transcripts of speeches she gave in the United
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States and Brazil. The fifth is her introduction to the reprint of Noam Chomsky's book, For Reasons of State. As a result, for this reader, the book does not hold together well as a whole. There are too many overlapping themes. Since three of the essays were aimed toward a politically aware and educated Indian audience, they frequently leave the American reader without enough background information to understand some details of her message.

Despite this criticism, Roy's overall message is clear: corporate globalization is imperialism, the United States is an empire, and there is nothing free about free markets, free speech, or free press.

Roy is, of course, best known for her 1997 Man Booker Prize-winning novel The God Of Small Things. She hasn't written another novel since. Instead, she seems to have reinvented herself as an international political activist. Journalists often ask her if she is writing another novel. "That questions mocks me," she says. "Another book? Right now? This talk of nuclear war displays such contempt for music, art, literature, and everything else that defines civilization. So what kind of book should I write?" (p. 7)

Roy is insanely brave and scathing in her attacks. Her words are put together with such creative energy and beauty, they often leave the reader gasping. In many places around the world, this type of rhetoric would make it certain that the protester might disappear forever. Let's hope that Roy never becomes the target of an assassination attempt and that she will be able to continue her nonviolent protests in speeches, interviews, and on the printed page.

But also, let us hope that she will eventually feel comfortable enough in letting other firebrands stir up trouble...then, perhaps, she can get around to writing that next novel that we are all looking forward to so much!

Some reviewers criticize Roy for not offering solutions; yet they miss the point. The essays themselves—indeed, her current, personal, relentless focus on protest—is her solution! And that is the solution she offers us. She wants us all to reinvent ourselves as political activist...to "come up with a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass." (p. 112)

"Our strategy should be not only to confront Empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness—and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe." (p. 112)
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LibraryThing member jonfaith
These pieces were written between 2002-2003 and reflect that troubled time. The titular piece opens the collection and is certainly timely in light of the bellicose rhetoric between North Korea and the Oval Office. The other pieces were not as gripping. There is an interesting view of domestic
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India and its myriad concerns.
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Original publication date



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