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Arundhati Roy reads to Dhaka audience

  • Published at 03:02 pm March 6th, 2019
Chobi Mela Arundhati
Arundhati Roy at Chobi Mela X on Tuesday | Mahmud Hossain Opu

The event, a part of international photography festival Chobi Mela, was held at the Midas Centre in Dhanmondi, Dhaka and saw a packed room of people eager to listen to the famed writer

Celebrated Indian author Arundhati Roy read from her book of collected essays to an enthralled audience during her talk, titled “Utmost Everything,” in Dhaka on Tuesday. 

The event, a part of international photography festival Chobi Mela, was held at the Midas Centre in Dhanmondi, Dhaka and saw a packed room of people eager to listen to the famed writer. Eminent photojournalist Shahidul Alam, who is also the festival director of Chobi Mela, moderated the event. 

At the session, besides discussing various political and environmental issues, Roy read excerpts from her novels and essays – a rare offering for the devoted followers of her writing in Dhaka. 

As soon as she entered the venue, she was welcomed with loud rounds of applause. 

Shahidul jokingly asked her: “Why are you here?” Roy promptly replied: “Because of you, Shahidul.” Looking at the audience, she continued: “And also because of all of you!” 

As the session began, Shahidul and Royspoke about democracy and how the idea has evolved over the years. 

The writer then read out the introduction from her book of collected essays, titled “Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy.”

She read: “While we’re still arguing about whether there’s life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy? What sort of life will it be? 

“…Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?” 

Moving on with the conversation, the Booker Prize-winning author also read passages from her first fiction, “The God of Small Things.” 

She read: “In a purely practical sense, it would probably be correct... The story then spans not only the 23 years between Sophie Mol's death and the...”

She also read from her first political essay, “The End of Imagination.” The excerpt from the essay she read to the audience was: “You’ve lived too long in New York, I told her. There are other worlds. Other kinds of dreams.

 “I tried to explain, but didn’t do a very good job of it. Sometimes I need to write to think. So I wrote it down for her on a paper napkin.” 

“Walking with the Comrades” is another essay written by Roy, based on the battle between revolutionary guerrilla force and state in the forests. She read beginning of this essay. 

“The writer should carry camera, tika and coconut, Meeter will have cup, Hindi Outlook magazine and Bananas. Password would be ‘Namaste guruji’.

“...I wondered whether the Meeter and Greeter would be expecting a man. And whether I should get myself a moustache.”

She continued reading: “There are many ways to describe Dantewada. It’s an oxymoron. It’s a border town smack in the heart of India. It’s the epicenter of a war. It’s an upside down, inside out town.”

She also read from her latest book “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.”

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