Book review of Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction

Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction

“So, at the end of it all, is fascism a kind of feeling -in the way anger, fear and move are feelings – that manifests itself in recognizable ways across cultures? Does a country fall into fascism the way a person falls in love? Or, more accurately, in hate? Has India fallen in hate? Because truly, the most palpable feeling in the air is the barbaric hatred the current regime and its supporters show towards a section of the population. Equally palpable now is the love that has risen to oppose this. You can see it in people’s eyes, hear it in protesters’ song and speech. It’s a battle of those who know how to think against those who know how to hate. A battle of lovers against haters. It’s an unequal battle, because the love is on the street and vulnerable. The hate is on the street, too, but it is armed to teeth, and protected by all the machinery of the state.”

Why I Picked This Book?

 Arundhati Roy is one writer I love to read be it fiction or non-fiction. So when this came out in September 2020, it was in reading list. I have read most of her work, this was  especially intriguing as most of the content of the book is between 2018 and 2020, as I wanted to know what are her thoughts about what is happening in India and how does she view all that what is happening. 

The Book

The books is collections of essays and speeches between 2018 and 2020 and primarily speaks about the way things are shaping up in India under the current regime. The speeches and essays captures the things which are happening around us, some of us take notice of it, some of us just go with the narrative that is being fed to us by the myriad of pro-establishment news channels be it print or electronic. To top it all we have social media to inundate us with fake news.

The book talks about revocation of Art 370 from Kashmir in August 2019 and the complete information blackout in Kashmir after that. It talks about CAA/NRC/NPA, and how the Bill was passed to make it an act, which clearly discriminate against Muslims.

These essays and speeches makes you think and you would want to read more on the subjects like Art370 and CAA. The author tries to put a point across that through all this the aim of the government seems to be target one religious group.

It also talks about RSS, their ideology, which is inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. Now that the BJP is in majority, how its ideological parent RSS wants the whole country to follow the Hindutva ideology, which purely means, Hindustan is a land for Hindus

The essays and speeches presents what India is becoming and what all is happening in India, be it mob-lynching,  flogging, intolerance towards anyone who speaks against the government or the PM. She also points out how any kind of dissent is brutally suppressed be it students, lawyers, people working for the rights of tribal and marginalized people. 

What we need are people who are prepared to be unpopular. Who are prepared to put themselves in danger. Who are prepared to tell the truth. Brave journalist can do that, and they have. Brave lawyers can do that, and they have. And artists – beautiful, brilliant, brave writers, poets, musicians, painters and filmmakers can do that. That beauty is on our side. All of it. 

We have work to do. And a word to win.

In one of her essays about the pandemic, she talks about how government handled or  maybe mishandled the whole thing, thus causing more problems and troubles for the poor and marginalized. The book, apart from what is happening wrong around us also warns us, if things go like the way it is going than we are heading into a bottomless pit of self destruction.

Some of the content is repetitive, still worth a read to understand whats happening around us and where it could lead us. 

 About the Author

Arundhati Roy studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives. She is the author of the novels The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. She has written several nonfiction books, including Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, Capitalism: A Ghost Story, Walking with the Comrades, Things That Can and Cannot Be Said (with John Cusack), and The End of Imagination. She is the recipient of the 2002 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize.

Our Verdict

 A great read for everyone irrespective of the set of political beliefs and ideology you follow. It will evoke different emotions depending your political alignment.

To get your own copy click on the link below.

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