^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 story...how 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?