November 19, 2010
The Love Queen of Malabar: Memoir of a Friendship with Kamala Das by Merrily Weisbord, Globe and Mail
Amit Chaudhuri is one of the most celebrated Indian writers in English you have never heard of. He is neither a fabulist like Rushdie nor a junkie of despair: There is never the sucker punch that leaves the reader reeling, giddy at the depravity of the human condition. Rather, he channels moods, like ragas that are sung according to the time of day and the season, but without the mad flourishes so adored in concert.
Sure, that sounds precious, but not so much for a book that actually revolves around the world of Indian music, written by a classically trained singer.
Arundhati Roy has a gift: to polarize readers into two camps, the true believers and the absolute deniers. Her latest book, Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy, gives both groups much to feast on. It also provides a chilling peek at the state of governance in the much ballyhooed India 2.0.
Once famous for a million-dollar advance for her much celebrated debut novel, A God of Small Things, Roy has since foregone fiction for literary activism. Her 1998 essay, The End of Imagination, was an epic howl aimed at the patriotic hubbub arising from the successful testing of the Hindu Bomb and made her, like Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva, a synonym for the passionately, and occasionally over-heatedly, argued dissection of the status quo…