Arundhati Roy: The Right To Be Sentimental

by Mark Chmiel

Right around the time in spring 2012 I finished Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine for Nima Sheth on the occasion of her graduation from medical school, I came across a book of interviews with Arundhati Roy, and particularly appreciated the following:

I’m not here to tell stories that people want to hear. I’m not entering some popularity contest. I just say what I have to say, and the consequences are sometimes wonderful and sometimes not. But I’m not here to say what people want to hear. 61

Failure attracts my curiosity as a writer. Loss, grief, brokenness, failure, the ability to find happiness in the saddest things—these are the things that interest me. 75

I insist on the right to be sentimental, to be passionate. If displacement, dispossession, killing and injustice on the scale that takes place in India does not enrage us, what will? 98

I’m not pretending to be a ‘neutral’ academic. I’m a writer. I have a point of view. I have feelings about the things I write about—and I’m going to express them. 98

The process of writing is the process of sharpening your thought and that’s the only thing that makes me really happy, regardless of what effect it has or what people think about it. And because writing is the same as thinking, everything in your body settles when you write. Eventually it’s about something settling inside yourself. 240

For me, it was more important to see each person has got this trajectory behind him or her—that there’s this history at work, politics at work  and yet there’s tenderness and it’s totally personal. 241-242

— Arundhati Roy, The Shape of the Beast: Conversations with Arundhati Roy