Sierra Magazine

Let’s Talk

Do you want to be better informed—and inspired to take action—about issues that matter? If so, we invite you to try Sierra’s new book and film club. First, choose one (or both!) of the two provocative works described below. Then gather with your friends and neighbors to talk about the book or watch the film. For tips on how to get a Let’s Talk group started, links to more information about our selections, questions to help ignite a good discussion, and a place to post comments, go to

The Cost of Living
a book by Arundhati Roy

In the late 1990s Arundhati Roy’s first book, a haunting novel titled The God of Small Things, rose to the New York Times best-seller list and stayed there for 49 weeks. In The Cost of Living, Roy uses her newfound fame to blow the whistle on two projects hailed as patriotic necessities for her native India: the atom bomb and the Narmada River dam project. This illuminating rant raises advocacy journalism to spirited new heights. It has also inspired people fighting nukes and other unwise development worldwide. "Numbers used to make my eyes glaze over," Roy says. "Not anymore. Not since I began to follow the direction in which they point." (Modern Library, $11.95)

Drowned Out
a film by Franny Armstrong

The tribal peoples of India have learned activism the hard way, as the waters rising from the Narmada River dam project threaten to swamp their rural villages. Formerly a rock musician, the filmmaker spent three years documenting the lives of these unlikely environmental heroes. Why bother with a complex story in a distant land? "The war for the Narmada valley is not just some exotic tribal war," says Arundhati Roy. "It’s a war for the rivers and mountains and forests of the world."

For home use, the 75-minute film is available for $29.95 from Bullfrog Films, (800) 543-FROG (3764).

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