Field Notes on Democracy by Arundhati Roy
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"Gorgeously wrought...pitch-perfect prose...In language of terrible beauty, she takes India's everyday tragedies and reminds us to be outraged all over again."—Time Magazine

Combining fierce conviction, deft political analysis, and beautiful writing, this is the essential new book from Arundhati Roy.

This series of essays examines the dark side of democracy in contemporary India. It looks closely at how religious majoritarianism, cultural nationalism, and neo-fascism simmer just under the surface of a country that projects itself as the world's largest democracy.

Roy writes about how the combination of Hindu Nationalism and India's neo-liberal economic reforms, which began their journey together in the early 1990s, are now turning India into a police state.

She describes the systematic marginalization of religious and ethnic minorities, the rise of terrorism, and the massive scale of displacement and dispossession of the poor by predatory corporations. She also offers a brilliant account of the August 2008 uprising of the people of Kashmir against India's military occupation and an analysis of the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai.

Field Notes on Democracy tracks the fault-lines that threaten to destroy India's precarious democracy and send shockwaves through the region and beyond.

Praise for Field Notes on Democracy:

"In her searing account of the actual practice of the world's largest democracy, Arundhati Roy calls for 'factual precision' alongside of the 'real precision of poetry.' Remarkably, she combines those achievements to a degree that few can hope to approach. Roy shows in painful detail how the beneficiaries of the highly admired 10 percent growth rate are enjoying a 'new secessionism,' leaving the great majority languishing in poverty and despair, with malnutrition reaching the same levels as sub-Saharan Africa. As surveillance and state terror extend, all under the guise of flourishing democracy, India is becoming 'a nation waiting to be accused,' a nation where a confession extracted under torture can lead to the brink of nuclear war, and where 'fascism's firm footprint has appeared' in ways reminiscent of the early years of Nazism. Most chilling of all is that much of the grim portrait is all too familiar in the West. Roy asks whether our shriveled forms of democracy will be 'the endgame of the human race'—and shows vividly why this is a prospect not to be lightly dismissed." —Noam Chomsky

"After so much celebratory salesmanship about India the 'emerging market,' Roy draws us into India the actual country, peeling away the gloss until we are confronted with perhaps the most challenging question of our time: who and what are we willing to sacrifice in the name of development? Roy is one of the most confident and original thinkers of our time."
—Naomi Klein

"The notion of Democracy and the pleading for human compassion first came together in Sophocles and the Greek tragedies. More than two thousand years later we live under an economic world tyranny of unprecedented brutality, which depends upon the systematic abuse of words like Democracy or Progress. Arundhati Roy, the direct descendant of Antigone, resists and denounces all tyrannies, pleads for their victims, and unflinchingly questions the tragic. Reflect with her on the answers she receives from the political world today." —John Berger

Arundhati Roy is a world-renowned Indian author and global justice activist. From her celebrated Booker Prize–winning novel The God of Small Things to her prolific output of writing on topics ranging from climate change to war, the perils of free-market development in India, and the defense of the poor, Roy's voice has become indispensable to millions seeking a better world.


About Arundhati Roy

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Suzanna Arundhati Roy, 1961 - Suzanna Roy was born November 24, 1961. Her parents divorced and she lived with her mother Mary Roy, a social activist, in Aymanam. Her mother ran an informal school named Corpus Christi and it was there Roy developed her intellectual abilities, free from the rules of formal education. At the age of 16, she left home and lived on her own in a squatter's colony in Delhi. She went six years without seeing her mother. She attended Delhi School of Architecture where she met and married fellow student Gerard Da Cunha. Neither had a great interest in architecture so they quit school and went to Goa. They stayed there for seven months and returned broke. Their marriage lasted only four years. Roy had taken a job at the National Institute of Urban Affairs and, while cycling down a road; film director Pradeep Krishen offered her a small role as a tribal bimbo in Massey Saab. She then received a scholarship to study the restoration of monuments in Italy. During her eight months in Italy, she realized she was a writer. Now married to Krishen, they planned a 26-episode television epic called Banyan Tree. They didn't shoot enough footage for more than four episodes so the serial was scrapped. She wrote the screenplay for the film In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones and Electric Moon. Her next piece caused controversy. It was an article that criticized Shekar Kapur's film Bandit Queen, which was about Phoolan Devi. She accused Kapur of misrepresenting Devi and it eventually became a court case. Afterwards, finished with film, she concentrated on her writing, which became the novel "A God of Small Things." It is based on what it was like growing up in Kerala. The novel contains mild eroticism and again, controversy found Roy having a public interest petition filed to remove the last chapter because of the description of a sexual act. It took Roy five years to write "A God of Small Things" and was released April 4, 1997 in Delhi. It received the Booker prize in London in 1997 and has topped the best-seller lists around the world. Roy is the first non-expatriate Indian author and the first Indian woman to win the Booker prize.
Published October 1, 2009 by Haymarket Books. 266 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Field Notes on Democracy

Kirkus Reviews

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Booker winner Roy (The Shape of the Beast: Conversations with Arundhati Roy, 2008, etc.) wields a potent pen in this collection of political essays, written between 2002 and 2008.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Field Notes on Democracy: Lis...

Publishers Weekly

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Genocide, denial, and truth-as-a-victim are just a few of the big subjects dealt with by Booker prize-winning Indian author and activist Roy (The God of Small Things) in this essay collection, written

Sep 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Field Notes on Democracy: Lis...

BC Books

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Arundhati Roy boldly sheds light on the dark mechanism of democracy in India.

Nov 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Field Notes on Democracy: Lis...

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Jul 03 2009 | Read Full Review of Field Notes on Democracy: Lis...

ForeWord Reviews

When writing about the violence surrounding the Godhra train-burning, she drives this same point into the reader’s consciousness: “The more the two sides try and call attention to their religious differences by slaughtering each other, the less there is to distinguish them from one another… They’...

Oct 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Field Notes on Democracy: Lis...

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