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The Cost of Living Paperback – Oct 26 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Oct. 26 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679310371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679310372
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #303,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The author of the Booker Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things dons a pundit's hat in her second book, and it's an awkward fit. This slim volume offers two previously published magazine articles. "The Greater Common Good," which appeared in Outlook, an Indian magazine, argues against the building of a controversial dam on the Narmada River in India. Roy notes that 60% of the 200,000 people likely to be uprooted by the project are tribal people, many illiterate, who will be deprived of their original livelihoods and land. Drawing on studies and government and court documents, Roy criticizes the World Bank, the Indian government and a political system that favors interest groups at the expense of the poor. In the second essay, "The End of Imagination," a criticism of India's decision to test a nuclear bomb that was published in the Nation in September 1998, Roy asks why India built the bomb when more than 400 million Indians are illiterate and live in absolute poverty. It's a good question, but fully a fifth of the article is devoted to a friend telling Roy that she has become so famous that the rest of her life would be "vaguely unsatisfying"Awhich is a fair description of this book. Roy surely has meaningful things to say about India. But she is not yet nearly as accomplished a political critic as she is a novelist. This effort, marred by general attacks on "the system" and personal digressions that distract a reader from the substantive issues at hand, is cursory and na?ve. That Roy anticipates this criticism doesn't render it any less valid. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

The phenomenal success of Roy's Booker Prize winning first novel The God of Small Things (LJ 4/15/97) has metamorphosed her into an activist supporting unpopular causes. This book consists of two parts: "The Greater Common Good" attacks the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river in western India, while "The End of Imagination" denounces India's nuclear tests in May 1998. The Save the Narmada movement, a grass-roots, anti-dam movement that has been agitating for over a decade, believes that instead of being a solution to India's water and power shortages, the still-incomplete dam will cause immense distress owing to the displacement of 40 million people, the submergence of 245 villages, inequities in resettlement, and environmental disasters. Roy's polemical tract on their behalf, while not a dispassionate inquiry, raises some important questions about the real price of "development," whether in the form of big dams or bombs. For public and academic libraries.ARavi Shenoy, Hinsdale P.L., IL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By giovanni on May 7 2002
Format: Paperback
In her newest offering Arudhati Roy , the writter of the widely known and multi-awarded The God Of Small Things presents a deep , careful study on the impact " progress " has made on the life of thousands of people in her country . She describes an India with many cultural and racial entities where the goverment keeps building huge dams in the valley of Naramada with no certain strategy and essential reasons . What she seems to be asking is this : " even if these dams are useful , does it eventually worth sacrificing so many people's lifes and houses for them ? " . In the end the book wins the reader not so much because of Roy's writing style but thanks to the power of her own personallity . She's a young , beutiful and wealthy woman who never forgets though the poor part of her country's population . Instead , she keeps standing by them with her writtings and her actions .
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The title reprises the astonishingly closing chapter of THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS, perfectly appropriately. At its spooky best, writing risks offering readers something very close to the heart's cry of a bright fellow human. This writing is very very close. Sufficiently exasperated, too.
Ms. Roy is Indian, or some kind of vigorous hybrid, as if Mohandas K. Ghandi & Molly Ivins & James Joyce & Mary Wollstonecraft had somehow mixed up together, which is amusing to consider at the conceptual stage plus makes for plumb interesting salty reading. Arundhati Molly Saint Mary Magdelene Bloom Mahatma Roy? As Joyce himself may have claimed (if online resources are to be trusted), perhaps grimacing very much like Mona Lisa, "Molly Bloom was a down-to-earth lady. She would never have indulged in anything so refined as a stream of consciousness." Whether or not Joyce was strictly fair, Roy shares, with Mary Wollstonecraft's daughter Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft Shelley & a few others, a concern about the usual effects of mankind's most Promethean notions. What hath we wrought now, again? Terrifying!
A natural wide ranging curiosity lightly mitigated by rather sketchy professional architect training leads where it leads? Roy can perform research, calculate costs so accurately that narrow experts may scream.
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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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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