Saturday, November 10, 2012

Arundhati Roy

^That's Arundhati Roy, author of best-selling novel "The God of Small Things" and political activist (which she apparently doesn't like being called, because 'what do activists really do and who came up with that word anyway?')

I saw her last night at the Sharjah International Book Fair, where she was supposed to be talking about her famous book. (Note: Supposed to be talking about her famous book.) Her session wasn't sponsored by any corporate, because how hypocritical would that be?, so basically, it was one of those times where random people passing by just drop in because something interesting seems to be happening, never mind if they have no idea what that is. A few minutes after I was lucky enough to get seated in the fourth row, the hall was infested with men, women, mommies, daddies, grandparents and mostly- KIDS. What were kids doing at a talk on 'The God of Small Things'?! The room was getting stuffier and noisier by the second, and there were huge crowds of unseated people squeezing at the sides, and for a moment I doubted whether I had accidentally walked in on a free three-ring circus. 

By the time she finally came up on stage (after arriving half an hour late another half hour of unnecessary introductions), I was sort of not excited at all and wanted to come back home. I've been to one of these sessions before to meet Jacqueline Wilson, and then I had had trouble staying still in my seat. So I don't know why and how this was happening, my mood turning one eighty degrees so easily before she had even started speaking. And this was the author of a book that I five-starred and read three times.

It didn't help that the interviewer was asking her such superficial, on-the-surface questions, like 'Would you change anything in the book now?' and 'Will you write another novel?' I really wanted her to talk alot more about the underlying themes in the book... about the incredible unique language she uses... how she thinks it contributed to telling her much of herself did she put in the novel....there was just SO much to be said about her book. I thought that was coming up after she read an intense extract but the interviewer was slowly steering the conversation to her political views, to recent comments she's made, to the press's reaction and blablablablabla

An hour later and I was sitting in the midst of a freaking convention on Indian politics, watching my favourite author argue with an economist in the audience. Another thirty minutes and I had given up on the book-signing happening anytime in the near future, stood up and left the hall (ignoring the protests coming from a disappointed copy of 'The God of Small Things'in my bag).

When I left the room, I really wanted to sit down on the carpeted floor and just bawl. You know the way you find kids doing in supermarkets' candy section? 


  1. Wow, this new layout is ... really interesting. I know I said that, but I'm still trying to get used to it.

    Anyway, I think I kinda know how you feel. Not completely, but you know, the disappointment that you didn't get to bond with the author on the level you wanted? I had a similar experience in that sense, though it was all about my own failings, because I just couldn't find the words to ask everything that was on my mind. I went and read your Wilson post too, and it was a little more relatable, even though you technically just mouthed the cliche words 'cause you found your question wrong.

    But hey, all I can say is such is life. I was devastated that I couldn't take advantage of my meeting with this author, but for all my depressed musings, nothing changed. Be happy, Ghadeer ♥

    AND, speaking of that Wilson post - how strange that is! I mean, the name was so familiar, but I couldn't remember for the life of me who she was. So I Wiki'd her, an it's just so amazing how many books I recognised. Even though I didn't remember her initially, she was still a part of my childhood :') Good times.

    1. *sigh* Yes, such is life. I might have said something cliched if I had got to the book-signing stage too. I guess it really is difficult to interact with authors on a personal level, unless you're alone with them. In a way, that's sort of suitable- I mean, authors only mean so much to us because of our attachment with their characters and stories...and these are intangible and a part of our own, imaginary worlds....I don't know if this is making sense. :/

  2. I suppose life has its disappointments and when it come in the context of ones idols it harsh. But nothing can be done about that. This is how usually things go about author giving speeches venues nobody talks about anything relevant. :)

    1. I wouldn't go as far as call her my "idol" but yes, gets harsh!

  3. I got my copy of 'The God of Small Things' signed a couple of years ago. Ironically though, I didn't even appreciate it as much, just liked the idea of owning my first ever signed copy. It was also a lot easier when she didn't make newspaper headlines on a yearly basis, and happened to be visiting my school. I hope I don't sound like I'm rubbing it in, but I WAS 15 or something at that time, and your post just reminded me how excited I was that day. :)

  4. Oh, us as are from the subcontinent love political nonsense-talk. Who cares about the fundamentals? Let's talk fighting and about ideals we never hope to adopt anyway *extreme sarcasm*
    I'm sorry it turned out so. I really wished I could've met her too!

  5. It's too bad the event didn't work out the way you had hoped. It sounds like it could have been much more substantive.

  6. Hahaha Omg! Oh no! I know how you felt! It's a shame she didn't talk about her book! AAAAH


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