Arundhati Roy: ‘I don’t want to become an interpreter of the east to the west’

Arundhati Roy is speaking at the Auckland Writers Festival on July 17. In this interview in The Guardian Roy discusses her writing and political activism.

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Gary Younge: One of the things I’m intrigued by at this moment is the way that we keep getting shocked by elections. Modi in India, the Australian elections – these hard-right people who don’t just win, they win again. It’s possible that Trump could win again. It’s possible we could have Boris Johnson as a UK prime minister, and each time we get shocked.

Arundhati Roy: I was in the US just now and it was very interesting to see, with someone who was mocked and laughed at like Trump has been, that there’s a very real possibility that he’ll come back. But there is a big difference between Modi and Trump. Modi has a 95-year-old organisation behind him, with 600,000 volunteers. People have been working towards this for a long time.

GY: Yet despite our methods of resistance, while the left can get larger numbers of people on the streets, we don’t seem to be able to make it cohere into something effective. There’s a conundrum in this moment where America can have four of the largest demonstrations in its history in the last two years and yet Trump is still politically viable

AR: In India, when they say left, they mean communist parties. And here, the great failure of the left has been to not be able to deal with caste. I suppose in the US it’s to have not been able to deal with race. All my writing from The God of Small Thingsonwards has a lot to do with that. Because caste is the engine that runs modern India. You can’t just get away in India with saying “Caste is class, comrade”. It’s not true.