My Seditious Heart

Author: Arundhati Roy
Reviewed by: Brinda Bose
Available at: Hamish Hamilton, Rs 999.

Arundhati Roy’s seditious heart (Nov 1, 2019, The Telegraph)

Princess of prose’. ‘Darling of bleeding-heart Left-liberals’. ‘Maoist’. ‘Ambedkarite’. ‘Anti-capitalist’. ‘Anti-development’. ‘Anti-nuclear’. ‘Anti-government’. ‘Anti-state’. ‘Anti-saffron’. ‘Anti-national’. Any three or four of these epithets together can identify Arundhati Roy, the writer of the (huge and) seditious heart. Such is the fame (rather, notoriety) that Roy bears on her feisty shoulders: a reputation built word by word through a quarter century of impassioned writing about the desecration of India’s democracy on every front – perhaps a perspective shared only by a shrivelling minority in the country today.

All the more reason, then, for a collector’s edition of her ‘collected non-fiction’ spanning more than two decades – book ended by her two novels of 1997 and 2017 – and titled, like a sentimental and transgressive romance, My Seditious Heart.…

Roy’s 950-page tome is a sometimes lyrical, sometimes strident record of a country’s slide from a liberal secular centrist identity (albeit with a sliver of leftism/socialism) to a Hindu nation of capitalist inclination and extreme-right-wing faith. It is also a record, distasteful as it may be for many, of how this apparently astonishing reversal of national colour was aided and abetted by successive governments since India’s Independence that were hardly all saffron-hued. For these achievements alone, My Seditious Heart is a classic.…