“How to tell a shattered story by slowly becoming everybody. No, by slowly becoming everything.” That’s the line that stuck with me from The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, the latest book by one of our favorite guests, Arundhati Roy. Roy’s strength as a writer — and what she does that so many of us struggle to do — is weave many stories into one fabric, without diluting the integrity of those stories. I’ve spoken to her often about her writing on capitalism, nationalism, solidarity and resistance. In this conversation we’ll talk about all those things again, and visit her new novel against the backdrop of anti-Muslim violence and landmark changes for queer people in her home country of India.
Laura Flanders: You dedicate your book The Ministry of Utmost Happinessto the unconsoled, and I believe that we are unconsoled in this moment. But I do worry that we in the United States, as you’ve alluded, become inured, become maybe muddied in our seeing, in our thinking, because there’s so much coming at us at all times. Insofar as you have a take on what’s happening here, where do you think we are? And then obviously I want you to talk about home and where India is, because India we barely see at all.
The thing is, people spend so much time mocking Trump or waiting for him to be impeached. And the danger with that kind of obsession with a single person is that you don’t see the system that produced him. You don’t see that, obviously, there was something about those eight years of Obama’s presidency that created Trump and if we just keep obsessing about this one person without seeing what would happen … what would happen if he wasn’t there tomorrow and Mike Pence came? Would it be better? You know? The kind of havoc that has been created in the world when I think about it now, between Europe and America increasingly, the simple truth is that these economies can only function by selling the weapons that they manufacture. Weapons which you cannot even imagine that the human mind can conceive of and they are doing the selling and we’re doing the buying.