This is a book of essays by Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy.
Some of the essays are spoken about in The Chequebook and the Cruise Missile, the book of interviews addressed in my previous post.
Roy’s views are both insightful and scathing. She pulls no punches when writing about the effects of the political ideologies driving the United States and other western governments.
As she starts one of the essays (first presented as a speech to the Riverside Church in Harlem), she says:
Some of you will think it bad manners for a person like me, officially entered into the Big Book of Modern Nations as an ‘Indian citizen’, to come here and criticise the US government. Speaking for myself, I’m no flag-waver, no patriot, and I’m fully aware that venality, brutality, and hypocrisy are imprinted on the leaden soul of every state. But when a country ceases to be merely a country and becomes an empire, then the scale of operations changes dramatically. So may I clarify that tonight I speak as a subject of the American Empire? I speak as a slave who presumes to criticise her king.
I’ve enjoyed both of Roy’s books that have marked the beginning of my reading for this year, however this one would be my personal preference, being an example of Roy’s own writings, where her observations and ideas are considered and crafted in a way that the book of interviews could not be.
I’d recommend both, but if it came to choosing between the two I’d go for The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire.
Below are links to:
1) an hour long video of Arundhati Roy’s speech: “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy”, included as an essay in the book. (note, patience may be needed, the video can be slow to load)
And also the title essay can be found here, as a magazine article: