Arundhati Roy, Author . South End $40 (128p) ISBN 978-0-89608-657-9 ISBN 0-89608-656-9

This second nonfiction book from the author of the acclaimed novel The God of Small Things returns to the subject she first explored in The Cost of Living: what she sees as the iniquity of globalization and the dangers of privatization, particularly in dam construction. In this slim yet meandering volume of three essays, Roy also criticizes an American energy company and the Indian government for allowing big business to make money privatizing electricity in a country where hundreds of millions lack any electricity. Roy's activism against the construction of dams that displace hundreds of thousands, especially the poor and low-caste, earned her a contempt of court citation from India's Supreme Court. She includes here her response, "On the Writer's Freedom of Imagination," but little context or explanation is given to help readers situate it. Likewise, Roy's other two short essays, ostensibly about the role of the writer (or "writer-activist," as she puts it) in society, criticize development, trade and global finance. Although her passion and agitation on these issues is commendable, her writing lacks analysis, and her generalized outrage and hyperbole make much of her criticism wooden. She tends to switch between issues of trade and her fame, losing the reader. The three pieces seem thrown together haphazardly, with no editorial explanation of how they originated (all are available on the Web) or in what context. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 09/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 132 pages - 978-0-89608-656-2
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