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Roy says she has already begun writing the new novel, but has no idea when it will be finished. The whisper was that it would be about Kashmir, the revolt-scarred Himalayan state, but Roy shakes her head sending ripples through her grey-flecked curls. "It is not true. My fiction is never about an issue. I don't set myself some political task and weave a story around it. I might as well write a straightforward non-fiction piece if that is what I wanted to do."A clue about where Roy is heading may be gleaned from her current reading. On her coffee table rests a book by Bono, while at her bedside are works by the radical American founding father Thomas Paine and Victorian novelist Charles Dickens. What these two writers share is their defence of the French revolution, and an empathy with the lower classes who pulled down the ruling elite. "In so many ways Paris then could be Delhi now. It is a conceit to think that all that we say is new and original."Like pre-revolutionary France, Roy says that India today is poised "on the edge of violence". As she sees it, the country of her birth is not coming together but coming apart - convulsed by "corporate globalisation" at an unprecedented, unacceptable velocity. "The inequalities become untenable."