One of the many unique and special things about living in Santa Fe is being able to take advantage of the Readings and Conversations Program sponsored by the Lannan Foundation. These lectures occur throughout the year and are held in our venerable and gorgeously renovated historic theater, the Lensic.
Santa Feans are fortunate that Patrick Lannan moved his Foundation here in 1997. This Foundation has supported many writers, artists and activists and brought many of them to Santa Fe so we could hear their stories in their own voices. Where else can you, for $6 a ticket, listen to such world-class writers and heroes like Breyten Breytenbach, Sebastiao Salgado, Junot Diaz, and Isabelle Allende, just to name a few?
These conversations are always sold out and last night’s was no exception. Arundhati Roy, Lannan’s 2002 Cultural Freedom Prize Winner, was the speaker. Though I read Man Booker Prize winning novel, The God of Small Things several years ago—and thoroughly enjoyed it—I had no idea what an eye-opening conversation last evening would hold. She read from her new book, Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy, and spoke about her two and a half week trek deep into the forests of Central India with the armed Maoist rebels to report on the Maoist insurgency. She explained that India’s police are fighting a war against what the government is calling their country’s “gravest internal security threat”. Roy describes the complexity of the situation in that “the tribal people, the forests, the minerals and the Maoists are all stacked on top of each other”.
The article she has just published describing this outing can be found at http://www.outlookindia.com/. Whether or not you agree with the political positions Roy has taken, after listening to her talk about India and its challenges, it certainly makes one appreciate living in America.