The chant of "Azadi!"--Urdu for "Freedom!"--is the slogan of the freedom struggle in Kashmir against what Kashmiris see as the Indian Occupation. Ironically, it also became the chant of millions on the streets of India against the project of Hindu Nationalism.
Even as Arundhati Roy began to ask what lay between these two calls for Freedom--a chasm or a bridge?--the streets fell silent. Not only in India, but all over the world. The coronavirus brought with it another, more terrible understanding of Azadi, making a nonsense of international borders, incarcerating whole populations, and bringing the modern world to a halt like nothing else ever could.
In this series of electrifying essays, Arundhati Roy challenges us to reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world of growing authoritarianism.
The essays include meditations on language, public as well as private, and on the role of fiction and alternative imaginations in these disturbing times.
The pandemic, she says, is a portal between one world and another. For all the illness and devastation it has left in its wake, it is an invitation to the human race, an opportunity, to imagine another world.
Loved by our collective!
Arundhati Roy has the rare talent of writing non-fiction essays that are just as engrossing as her fiction. She could write about watching paint dry in her signature wry style and it would keep me on the edge of my seat because she is that good. Thankfully, the subjects covered in Azadi are already fascinating: the movements for freedom under a fascist Indian state, and the role of the writer to document and uplift them. The star of this collection is definitely "The Pandemic is a Portal," in which Roy wonders what could be if we collectively decided to leave our pre-Covid baggage behind and imagine another world.
Content Warnings: the unspeakable violence that state governments enact on their people, Covid-19
- 150 pages
- Haymarket Books (9/1/20)
- 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches