Broadcast in conversation on her new book of essays, Azadi, the author and activist reflects on what it means to be free in a post-pandemic world.

‘Azadi’ is the Urdu word for ‘freedom’, and is the slogan chanted by Kashmiris against Indian occupation. Ironically, it also became the protest cry of millions demonstrating on the streets of India against Hindu nationalism.

As Arundhati Roy began to ask what lay between these two calls for freedom, all sides fell silent, when coronavirus brought the world to a halt.

Drawing on this timely series of essays, Roy reflects on the nature of freedom against a backdrop of growing authoritarianism.

In conversation with journalist Razia Iqbal, Roy explores topics that encompass the relationship between public and private language, and the role that fiction and imagination can play in these troubling times.

Despite the devastation wreaked by the pandemic, Roy also invites us to see it as an opportunity to imagine a better world.

Arundhati Roy is the author of The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997 and has been translated into more than 40 languages, and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2017.

Roy has also published several works of non-fiction, including The Algebra of Infinite JusticeListening to Grasshoppers and Broken Republic.

Razia Iqbal has been a journalist with BBC News for more than three decades. She currently presents two flagship international current affairs programmes on radio: Newshour on the BBC World Service and The World Tonight on Radio 4.

Hardback copies of Arundhati Roy’s new book, Azadi, are available for £6 when you buy a ticket to watch the talk.

This event is a partnership between Southbank Centre and Penguin Live.

Get your tickets by clicking here.

  • AZADI

  • The perfect gift for the activists, rebels and freedom fighters in your life...

    FROM THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF MY SEDITIOUS HEART AND THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS, A NEW AND PRESSING DISPATCH FROM THE HEART OF THE CROWD AND THE SOLITUDE OF A WRITER'S DESK

    The chant of 'Azadi!' - Urdu for 'Freedom!' - is the slogan of the freedom struggle in Kashmir against what Kashmiris see as the Indian Occupation. Ironically, it also became the chant of millions on the streets of India against the project of Hindu Nationalism.

    Even as Arundhati Roy began to ask what lay between these two calls for Freedom - a chasm or a bridge? - the streets fell silent. Not only in India, but all over the world. The Coronavirus brought with it another, more terrible understanding of Azadi, making a nonsense of international borders, incarcerating whole populations, and bringing the modern world to a halt like nothing else ever could.

    In this series of electrifying essays, Arundhati Roy challenges us to reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world of growing authoritarianism.

    The essays include meditations on language, public as well as private, and on the role of fiction and alternative imaginations in these disturbing times. The pandemic, she says, is a portal between one world and another. For all the illness and devastation it has left in its wake, it is an invitation to the human race, an opportunity, to imagine another world.

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