The End of Imagination

The End of Imagination
Image source: Google

Rating: 4.5/5

Author: Arundhati Roy

Publisher: Haymarket Books

Publishing Date: 6 September 2016

Language: English

Genre: Non-Fiction, Political studies

ISBN-10: 1608466191

ISBN-13: 978-1608466191

Format: Paperback

Pages: 408

Cost: Rs. 280.25 (Kindle edition)


The End of Imagination brings together five of Arundhati Roy's acclaimed books of essays into one comprehensive. This new collection begins with her forcefully condemning India’s nuclear tests and the construction of enormous dam projects that leads to displacing numerous people from their homes and away from their communities. 

The End of Imagination also includes her nonfiction works- Power Politics, War Talk, Public Power in the Age of Empire, and An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire which include her widely circulated and inspiring writings on the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the need to confront corporate power, and the hollowing out of democratic institutions globally.


‘The End of Imagination’ talks about the political issues between 1998 and 2004. Drawn from five books, these 21 selections confronts some of the powerful and influential people of the world and challenges their political settlements.

The introduction summarizes present-day Indian politics. The Hindu-nationalist BJP in 2014 returns Narendra Modi to prominence as Prime Minister. In 2015, he greeted Barack Obama while wearing a million-rupee suit with his own name woven into its pinstripes. The author is of the opinion that the huge fracture between that ‘alleged’ leader and millions of the citizens and other subjects symbolizes itself in this staged setting, him wearing tailored clothes.

The title entry addresses the nuclear showdown in 1998 between India and its neighbouring nuclear foe. Another compares a Hindu India with pre-WWII Germany. A third considers the legacy of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Roy expresses that she feels highly perturbed by the psychological states of India and Pakistan which abound in ‘tired, dejected heartbroken people’. The people in power may take advantage of these vulnerable emotions that people are having and turn them sour which may trigger off a war. The war, then indicates a dilemma that can be seen approaching and which may carry with itself unspeakable damage and dilemma. She’s worried that:

“What shall we do then, those of us who are still alive?

Burned and blind and bald and ill, carrying the cancerous carcasses of our children in our arms, where shall we go?”

The author criticizes India’s inclination towards constructing big dams and its cruelty to the people displaced by these constructions. She sharply criticises the ultimate power that America has and its destructive in nature ‘Free-market’, multinational institutions like the World Bank, and the never ending greed of Corporations. She denounces the Hindu supremacists of India, who have sparked violence, divided communities, and tightened their hold on limitless power. She, however is seen to be sympathetic towards the Maoists, the militant insurgents in central India who are fighting a state that is spoiling and robbing the earth of ore and coal.

Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz says: “…And in these extraordinary essays which are clarions for justice, for witness, for a true humanity- Roy is at her absolute best.”

About the Author:

Arundhati Roy was born in 1960 in Kerala, India. She studied architecture at the Delhi School of Architecture and worked as a production designer. She has written two screenplays including Electric Moon (1992) that was commissioned by Channel 4 television.

Her first novel ‘God of small things’ won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997. An immediate bestseller, the novel was published simultaneously in 16 languages and 19 countries but caused controversy in India for the description of a love affair between a Syrian Christian and a Hindu 'untouchable'. She is also the author of several non-fiction books including: The Cost of Living (1999)- a highly critical attack on the Indian government for its handling of the controversial Narmada Valley dam project and for its nuclear testing programme; Power Politics (2001)- a book of essays; and The Algebra of Infinite Justice- a collection of journalism. The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire was published in 2004. She has since published a further collection of essays examining the dark side of democracy in contemporary India ‘Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy’(2009).

Her latest book is ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ (2017), her second novel. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and, in the US, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. For her work as an activist she received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in 2002.