Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Sunday, December 15, 2002  

A collection of essays by Arundhati Roy, The Algebra of Infinite Justice, has just been published, and the UK Guardian's review takes Roy to task for careless use of language and obtuse judgements:

'Her strengths as a polemicist are clear, but now that Roy's journalism has been collected, rather than being seen one article at a time in newspapers and magazines, its weaknesses are also shown up. This is a writer who is very self-conscious about her standing as an artist, who tells us that far from being just a journalist she notices those things that lie "outside the realm of common human understanding". But, oddly, her essays often read as though she hasn't weighed her words too carefully. She litters her prose with overused tags and journalese: "One country's terrorist is too often another's freedom fighter"; "Big dams are obsolete. They're uncool"; "The borders are open, folks! Come on in."'

I have read a couple of the essays in this collection, and find myself agreeing with these sentiments. Roy's passion is unmistakable, and her criticisms are pretty fairly distributed. But the sort of oversimplifications and quick conclusions she is prone to are unhelpful at the least. If, with no sign of a second novel on the horizon, this is the writing we can expect from Roy in the future, she's going to have to hunker down and get really serious about how she goes about things.

posted by Jonathan | 12:02 AM 0 comments


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