[Reader-list] Tharoor fires at Arundhati Roy on Hay's literary war ground
Aditya Raj Kaul
kauladityaraj at gmail.com
Sun Nov 14 16:08:20 IST 2010
*Tharoor fires at Arundhati Roy on Hay's literary war ground*
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 14 (IANS) Member of Parliament and writer Shashi
Tharoor Sunday hit out at Arundhati Roy at the Hay Festival here, saying the
Booker prize winner-activist has 'gone too far to the left' and
'unfortunately chooses to write about those who carry with guns'.
'Arundhati Roy has gone far too to the left like (writer-thinker)
Christopher Hitchens, who has gone far too right. Arundhati Roy
unfortunately chooses to write about those who carry with guns - it is sad
for those at the receiving end of the guns. By writing about Gandhians with
guns, she loses a large number of people. A large number of innocent Indians
have been killed by the Gandians with guns,' Tharoor said in a candid
one-on-one session with Peter Florence, founder-director of Hay Festival,
'As a writer, it is her writing that gives her an audience - but the views
that she expresses can be dealt with on the platform they are expressed,'
He hinted that her views could be treated as 'sedition'.
Roy had been targetted by many for her articles in a leading magazine about
Maoists, who she described as 'Gandhians', and also for speaking favorably
of the Kashmiri separatists' demand of 'azadi'.
Tharoor held forth on a gamut of subjects that ranged from the influence
wielded by children's writer Enid Blyton in early childhood, which his
mother read out to him, Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses' to the role of women in
the transmission of a society's culture, importance of computers in carrying
literature to a wider cross section of an audience and on his tweeting.
As an early bird, who chanced upon one of the first copies of 'Satanic
Verses' before the 'fatwa' rocked the world, Tharoor walked listeners down
the labyrinth of time to comment on Rushdie's evocative interpretation of
Islam in the book.
'I was at the Penguin office when the first box of 'Satanic Verses' had
arrived and I was given one of the first copies. I read the whole of
'Satanic Verses' and I was completely astonished by the moving advocation of
the father-son relationship. I read it as an admiring depiction of a
fictional Islam - an amazing evocation of faith. The fact that the book had
to be condemned was sad. He had done a fantastic PR job for his faith,' he
The removal of Rohinton Mistry's book, 'Such a Long Journey' from the
Mumbai University syllabus haunts Tharoor.
'I was just horrified that it happened in Mumbai - (the metropolis where he
spent several growing up years). Rohinton Mistry wrote such fine books; and
because the book had taken potshots - it (the Maharashtra government) had
the power to intimidate. Rohinton Mistry ought to come back,' Tharoor said.
'Mumbai is a sad place', the writer-diplomat-politician said.
'A bizarre politics has been allowed to flourish against north Indians in
Mumbai and the spin-offs have been a parochial xenophobia,' Tharoor said.
He drew parallels with fellow non-resident Malayali writer Jaisree Misra's
book, 'Rani' - a rather romantic account of the Rani (queen) of Jhansi that
was banned for 'alluding to the warrior queen's romantic liaison with a
He believes that the internet could open up 'tremendous possibilities for
Indian students and would keep literature alive in a different form'.
'India still produces more English honours (graduates) than any other
country in the world,' he said.
Tharoor is not bitter about his experience on twitter - 140-character
social networking site that has caught the former minister of state for
external affairs on the wrong foot several times.
He still tweets with zeal - and is even back to writing his journalistic
columns. 'I began to tweet when counting for polls - my votes in
Thiruvananthapuram - in the last election was in progress. It was excitement
that made me tweet. The twitter has an instant reach to a large audience
which otherwise would not be possible. One of the good things about twitter
is the instant feedback,' he said.
What book would he recommend to readers as a writer. Naturally; 'The
Argumentative Indian' by Amartya Sen because it 'presents delightful ideas',
'The Mahabharata' and Jawaharlal Nehru's works.
'Nehru wrote wonderful stuff,' he said.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c at ians.in)
More information about the reader-list