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Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160846024X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608460243
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Genocide, denial, and truth-as-a-victim are just a few of the big subjects dealt with by Booker prize-winning Indian author and activist Roy (The God of Small Things) in this essay collection, written with fluid precision and acute rage. Covering rampant injustices in India and Kashmir perpetrated by governments and corporations, most in the past decade, Roy is unfailingly eloquent, sorting through a complicated network of special interests and partisan governmental groups to reveal nuances of corruption and oppression even to non-nationals. Roy worries that "the space for nonviolent civil disobedience has atrophied," but finds hope and joy in developments including the "hundreds of thousands of unarmed people" returning to Kashmir "to reclaim their cities, their streets and mohallas," and a generation raised in "army camps, check-posts, and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a sound track" who have "discovered the power of mass protest and, above all, the dignity of being able to... speak for themselves." Roy details genocide instigated by Hindu interests against Muslims, revisits the recent Mumbai massacre, and pleads the people's case as vast rural areas are drained of resources while the Indian ruling class concentrates on corporate globalization. The Bush administration also comes in for scathing criticism in this vivid inside look at India's turbulent growth.

About the Author

Arundhati Roy is a world-renowned Indian author and global justice activist. From her celebrated Booker-Prize winning novel "The God of Small Things," to her prolific output of writing on topics ranging from climate change to war, the perils of free-market "development" in India, and the defense of the poor, Roy's voice has become indispensable to millions seeking a better world.

More About the Author

Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives. She has worked as a film designer and screenplay writer in India. Roy is the author of the novel The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. The novel has been translated into dozens of languages worldwide. She has written several non-fiction books, including The Cost of Living, Power Politics, War Talk, An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire, and Public Power in the Age of Empire. Roy was featured in the BBC television documentary Dam/age, which is about the struggle against big dams in India. A collection of interviews with Arundhati Roy by David Barsamian was published as The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile. She is a contributor to the Verso anthology Kashmir: The Case for Freedom. Her newest books are Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers and Capitalism: A Ghost Story, published by Haymarket Books, and Walking with the Comrades, published by Penguin. Roy is the recipient of the 2002 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Prize.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A. S. Carbonell on November 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the second book that I have read this month which was recommended by Noam Chomsky. Field Notes on Democracy by Arundhati Roy is a shocking report of the hollowing-out of democratic values in India. It is brilliantly written, as was her novel, The God of Small Things. However, this book, unlike the novel, is as unlovely as torture, greed, pillage, waste and wholesale murder can be. It is a non-fiction account of how the world's largest democracy has had its concepts of social justice eroded by unbridled growth, corporate greed, destruction of the environment, and a government run by vested interests and touts. "Most chilling of all, writes Chomsky in his review, "is that much of this grim portrait is all too familiar to the West."Which, of course, brings me to the other book which I read following Chomsky's recommendation: Michael Hogan's Savage Capitalism and the Myth of Democracy. Here we see the same processes at work, not only in Latin America where Hogan lives and works, but also in the monolith to the north.
These two books are companion pieces of East and West, especially attractive to readers like me who appreciate reality being cogently and elegantly expressed by social activists and are not ideologues but thoughtful and compassionate human beings who sincerely work to make a difference in the area where they live: for Roy, India; for Hogan, Latin America. They both bring us news of a real world and the demise of democracy on the altar of progress. As Ed Abbey once wrote, "Unlimited growth has the etiology of the cancer cell. Its ultimate goal is the destruction of its host."
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Barricklow VINE VOICE on September 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The author points out that the current system of pretend to be democracies around the world have way too much representation with way too little democracy. These governments are need structual adjustments. Now for those not familiar with the draconian IMF/World Bank structural adjustments, forced upon governments in need of loans, they are designed to suck the life blood of society by extreme cuts to education, health care, infrastruture, local agriculture, local ANYTHING. Because in the international Help Business, local is a very bad four letter word, no matter how you choose to spell it: local is to be extermintated with extreme prejudice. So when the author writes that democracy is in need of structural adjustment, she means it in the normal way, not the Orwellian double-speak of the international instruments of international banks/transnational corporations. So, it is her play with words that cut deeply into the sinister character of the players in The New World Order, that are very soothing to my nature. The more deep and sharp the meaning, the more pleasure to my reading. And reading Arundhati Roy is, I assure you, extreme pleasure.
She says that today's democracies, under the current the stewardship, have fused with the free markets, into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of Maximizing Profit.
She refers to her India as the world's largest demon-crazy(as a Kashmiri protester once put it).
In today's privitized global march, freedom means choice, nothing to do with the human spirit, but alot to do wuth different brands of deoderant. Justice has to do with human rights(and of those, as they say, a few will do).
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers is an anthology of essays in which author Arundhati Roy (winner of the 2002 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Prize) seeks to answer the question "Is there life after democracy?" More specifically, she examines how Hindu nationalism and neo-liberal economic reforms in India, which arose during the early 1990s, are currently transforming India into a police state. From the deliberate and systematic marginalization of religious and ethnic minorities, to the increased power of predatory corporations that engineer the displacement of the poor on a gigantic scale, to the August 2008 uprising of the people of Kashmir against India's military occupation, to a scrutiny of the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Field Notes on Democracy is sharply critical in its exposure of the weaknesses and corruption in India's current model of government. A thought-provoking read, Field Notes on Democracy warns against the abuses of wealth and power in India's current governmental system, and the threat of impending disaster. Highly recommended.
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By minajay on October 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A real disappointment. This book was not nearly as interesting as some of her other books. It would have been nice if she had discussed India's "issues" in the more global context, perhaps focusing on the overarching themes/lessons that can be pulled from the events that she discusses. Also, I found her references to Africa offensive. She only mentions Africa when describing negative conditions in India ("things were almost as bad as in Africa..." or "he was like an African..."), as if for her, Africa represents all things bad or backward. Well, first, not only is this inaccurate, if she would only do a bit of research.i Second, it is ethnocentric and inappropriate behavior or someone with her level of exposure and education. I find it inexcusable.
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