cover image Walking with the Comrades

Walking with the Comrades

Arundhati Roy. Penguin, $15 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-14-312059-9

Acclaimed Indian novelist, essayist and activist Roy (The God of Small Things) exposes the violent contradictions of India’s economic miracle in this blistering critique of the Indian government’s campaign against the Maoist insurgents in the country’s central tribal lands encompassing several states. Roy, who recounts time spent on the move with a cadre of rebels, argues forcefully that Operation Green Hunt—launched by the state under the rubric of the threat of terrorism—is an all-out war to remove indigenous communities from lands already promised to corporations eager to exploit their extremely valuable resources. While acknowledging the Maoism’s “problematic past” and acknowledging atrocities on both sides, Roy sees little alternative beyond armed struggle for these people facing aggressive displacement and dispossession by a corporate-government system of exploitation—often operating in tandem with NGOs and other power players. Moreover, she sets the Maoist movement in a much longer history of indigenous resistance, and remains impressed by the dignity and courage of the cadres and the alternative model they offer to passive extinction. Informed, impassioned, at times strident, and fleet and fascinating when describing life on the ground among the rebels, Roy’s prose will both rouse and ruffle. When she speaks of the vast “universe” of undeclared stakeholders in the profits to be made by such human and environmental destruction, she ultimately points to a global system in which all we’re all crucially involved and implicated. (Nov.)