Robert Isenberg's Reviews > The Cost of Living

The Cost of Living by Arundhati Roy
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Jan 03, 2008

it was amazing

This selection is a misnomer -- I picked up one-half of this book, a pamphlet called "The End of Imagination," in India in 2000. Roy's fiction has never really interested me; her work has always been trumped by Jhumpa Lahiri, a similar but more intriguing fictioneer. But Roy's polemics are breathtaking: She describes nuclear war -- and damns the Indian nuclear proliferation program -- in the most aggressive language I've ever read on the subject. She writes with the brutal conciseness of a quiet but outraged mother. She doesn't joke or exaggerate once; she states, with boiling simplicity, exactly how destructive a nuclear winter will be; and she adds, profoundly, that World War III will not only spell global genocide, but the annihilation of all our history and aspirations. The point of human existence will be moot; tens of thousands of years of evolution and development will mean nothing at all. Perhaps in spite of its bleakness, to know that this book was available in a Chennai bookstore is heartening. More heartening still: Salman Rushdie's novels were being sold in the same shop.
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