Guilt Lit, Sumana Roy

[https://lareviewofbooks.org/short-takes/guilt-lit/ ]

Reading Sumana Roy’s Guilt Lit, I was reminded of the countless similar times one is morally conditioned and policed (in classrooms, peer and learning spaces) to read the
kind of literature that ‘remind(s) us of our privilege footprint’. It conjures the clamour as shallow as the call to shift to vegetarianism to save the planet.

Digressing. Everything has a context and we need to see it. When we are fighting climate change, we need to see who is it that we are really fighting? Is it the corporate (with their industrial means and propaganda) or the average person trying to sustain a decent life?

When reflecting on culture, society or literature, Alan Johnson’s ‘One Thing’ in ‘The Forest and Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice and Promise’ remains a guide:

‘We are always participating in something larger than ourselves, and if we want to understand social life and what happens to people in it, we have to understand what it is that we are participating in and how we participate in it.’

In relying on individualism, we subscribe to the narrow perspective of viewing society as people and people as society.

Thank you for bringing this very insightful writing to discussion. I think its very much relevant in these times where literature can be anything but apolitical.

It has been an age-long debate, this between aesthetics and politics, and the place of art between these two commitments. However hard we try, we do understand that it is art that meets both these commitments that make a difference.

Guilt lit is a good way to put it. But is it really criticizing our practices or the practice of art being political is a question I have not yet answered.