Rebel With a Pen

Arundhati Roy's collection of essays is the fruit of 20 years of thinking, writing and living.

Hers is a book that transcends genre; a body of work with a porous boundary between fiction and non-fiction. She writes about religion, politics, infrastructure and culture through the stories of the people she has met along the way. "Could I turn these topics into literature?" she asks, "I tried."

In turn, she criticises, remembers, prophesies and chiefly, touches on what it means to be a human in an ever-changing and often cruel world. 

"Although writers usually walk alone, most of what I wrote rose from the heart of a crowd." she said. "It was never meant as neutral commentary, pretending to be observations of a bystander. It was just another stream that flowed into the quick, immense, rushing currents that I was writing about."

Roy's epic collection of essays do not shy away from risk. She has been the subject of police cases, legal notices, court appearances and even jail sentences. Following her success with her novel, The God of Small Things, she said: "I was kicked off the pedestal at once" for her political commentary and outspoken nature. 

Reading from her book, she said: "To slow a beast, you break its limbs. To slow a nation, you break its people." It is a dictum that kindles the thoughts in her work. Her writing is about the injustices of society which mould the lives of the voiceless. As a result, she gives these people voices.

Photograph by Chris Athanasiou