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Paperback The Cost of Living Book

ISBN: 0375756140

ISBN13: 9780375756146

The Cost of Living

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Book Overview

From the bestselling author of "The God of Small Things" comes a scathing and passionate indictment of big government'sdisregard for the individual. In her Booker Prize-winning novel, "The God of Small Things," Arundhati Roy turned a compassionate but unrelenting eye on one family in India. Now she lavishes the same acrobatic language and fierce humanity on the future of her beloved country. In this spirited polemic, Roy dares to take on two of the...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Brave & Universal - not just for Indians!

Arundhati Roy has a wonderful way of writing. This woman could write about absolutely anything at all and I think I will still enjoy it. She has a naturally earnest free flowing poetic yet precise language. She has the ability to choose her words so well as to get the exact picture or impression she wants us to see. Truly she paints with her words.Roy used her amazing writing skills and sensitivity so very well in her fantastic work, The God of Small Things. Here she uses the same skills and more aiming primarily at her own people asking them to re-examine 2 strongly held views. As non-Indian I thoroughly enjoyed both essays of this book.The first essay deals with the construction of river dams in India since the independence in 1947. Roy set about in a very systematic way to establish the true cost of the dams in terms of human suffering. She focused on one project in particular but her research was wide ranging and indeed she had to dig into several completed projects to establish true benefits and costs. Roy's central message is that the price paid by an oppressed native minority is way too high and the alleged benefits to India are low. Where this essay is truly universal, at least applicable to so many third world countries in the post colonial era, is in its research for a definition for her own country, identity and common good and modes of opposition to this common good! Roy was also highly unimpressed with the western approach to 3rd world development projects but her approach was a times too general and sweeping.The Second article, probably far more universal, is the nuclear weapons article. Roy's analysis of the policies of the Congress party and the BJP nationalists leading to the 1998 explosions shows great insight and clarity of mind. She categorically opposes the bomb as weapon of peace and she totally rejects the overwhelming support of her people for the bomb and the Indian nuclear tests. Having traveled to India shortly after the Indian and Pakistani explosions I was horrified with the attitude of "our bomb was better than theirs" and this is the first work that I personally have seen that takes on this subject with such force. Roy's opposition leaves no prisoners behind. It is hard to overstate the courage of Roy on this issue given the level of tension between Hindu India and Islam within India itself and across the borders.I strongly recommend this wonderfully written book to anyone interested in issues related to regional conflicts and postcolonial development.

Masters of the Universe?

Ms. Roy captures the essence of the technological problems of the planet today. We humans like to think of ourselves as "Masters of the Universe." When, in fact, we are flawed creatures who do things without the wisdom to see the long-term consequences of our actions - be they building a dam or nuclear weapon. It is not lost on this reader, that the "father" of the atomic bomb quoted the lines of Shiva when he first saw his weapon exploded - "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." We humans are good at destruction; sometimes it even looks like building. While Ms. Roy's prose is a bit less poetic than that found in "The God of Small Things," her passion makes up for the linguistic power. She is calling out the leaders, not only of India, but also of the world, to reconsider the consequences of what they are doing to the earth and its peoples. All of these actions, of course, in the names of progress and national defense. It is not likely that Ms. Roy's writings will change the governments. But perhaps they will open your eyes as they did mine, to the realities of what we are doing on and to this planet. At the beginning of the 21st century we are again looking at the exploitation of the earth that nurtures us to the point where it may no longer support us.

Great book

Contrary to what one of the reviewers above would have us believe, this in fact is a great book. It takes some courage to go with an open mind and curiosity and come back with the facts. It is very easy (and convenient) for people with cosy lives to dimsiss disturbing details about the real injustices done to India's poor in the name of developement because doing otherwise would force one to examine ones own life and that in turn can lead to a lot of discomfort.However it is well worth remembering that an unexamined life is not worth living. If we want to continue to mainatain a facade in the name of Developement while constantly sweeping the dirt under the rug, we must realize that sooner or later the bulge is going to show and the stench is going to be unbearable. Guess what? It is showtime. The ugliness and calousness with which we pursue "Development" is now out in the open. Now is as good a time as any for all of us to ask ourselves, what is the basis for all that we do in the name of Development and who are we helping develop anyway? The answers may lead to discomfort and may force us to give up our preconceived notions and prejudices. If enough people do this perhaps in the long run we will be the better for it.Read this book, think and act.

Short, interesting... enlightening

Arundati Roy turns from fiction, momentarily, we hope, to non-fiction.That is not to say that 'The Cost of Living' lacks power of imagination. The book consists of two short essays that centre on two very problematic situations in the current India- and they are issues worth writing about. The essay that most enthralled me (much to do with it being in the news a lot) was the essay which dealt with India's nuclear testing, and the tension it has created not only in the region, but in the world. She investigates the Wests' hypocrisy- do they have a right to lambast the Indians, when they themselves have done the same thing- the exact same thing? It is very interesting. Like the great novelist she is, Roy writes with compassion, an intense focus, and is very articulate. It is worth reading this book even if you have no interest in Indian politics, because it is a matter of life and death, hypocrisy, possible armageddon and the hole that humankind insists on digging itself into. Strongly reccommended.

A Must Read for privileged Indian-Americans!

Not a book that would wow the reader with eloquence, but a passionate and serious account of two examples of the folly of massive state-sponsored projects "for the people's good."What not enough reviewers have taken into account is the book's implicit indictment of modern Western thought, culture & politics on India's -- and Pakistan's -- people.India & Pakistan are at war primarily because of the original British plan for Partition that created separate Hindu and Muslim states. Skillful Western diplomacy that has played one off against the other for fifty years keeps passions high and these two nations at each other's throats -- to neither's benefit.By playing India & Pakistan off each other, each nation has been unable to break free from Soviet-style planning and join the rest of the developed world. They instead measure progress by 1940s and 1950s standards, both Soviet and Western, and the results, as outlined by Roy in this book, are devastating.Now, the World Bank and IMF (whom Roy despise) are propping up the smaller middle-class at the great expense of most of India's population. 600 million illiterates; poor sanitation, hygiene, family planning & health care; and a completely corrupt economy are the problems -- yet Roy shows clearly that the state is moving in a direction farther away from solutions. The West must take a great deal of responsibility for this, and the passion of Roy can't help but move one to action.
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