05 August, 2021

She Was There

Great embedded journalism, but more rhetoric than reason

Illustration by Sorit
She Was There

Whether we agree with her or not, we read Arundhati Roy because she surprises us. There is always some statistic, some quotation, some ironic remark that makes one say, “Hey, I hadn’t thought of that before.” This time, though, I found myself being disappointed. It’s almost a cliche of such reportage (of a writer’s encounter with an underground group) to begin with the rendezvous and end on a note of wistful longing. Roy does both. Come on Arundhati, I wanted to say, surprise us.

One is glad that voices like hers exist, and that she commands enough star value for Outlook to bill the issue a 'collector’s item’. Roy writes with feeling, she is superb at catching irony, be it describing Dantewada as a border town smack in the centre of India or the Indian rulers’ adoption of China’s path as their own. Her...

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