John Cusack: One morning as I scanned the news – horror in the Middle East, Russia and America facing off in the Ukraine – I thought of Edward Snowden and wondered how he was holding up in Moscow. I began to imagine a conversation between him and Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war). And then, interestingly, in my imagination a third person made her way into the room – the writer Arundhati Roy. It occurred to me that trying to get the three of them together would be a neat thing to do.
Arundhati Roy: My phone rang at three in the morning. It was John Cusack asking me if I would go with him to Moscow to meet Edward Snowden. The other person who would be travelling with us was Daniel Ellsberg – the Snowden of the ’60s.
John Cusack: I met up with Roy in London. She had been there for two weeks giving talks in Cambridge and the Southbank Centre on her new work on Gandhi and BR Ambedkar. At Heathrow, she told me quite casually that some folks in India were burning effigies of her. “I seem to be goading the Gandhians to violence,” she laughed, “but I was disappointed with the quality of the effigy.”
We flew together to Stockholm to meet up with Dan, who was attending the ceremony of the Right Livelihood Awards – some call it the Alternative Nobel – because Ed was one of the laureates. We would fly to Moscow together from there.
Cusack, Roy and Ellsberg would spend two extraordinary days with Snowden in Cusack’s room 1001 of the Moscow Ritz Hotel. Their 20-hour long conversation was long, freewheeling, moving, stimulating, funny and troubling. Those two days were captured in photographs taken by all three and presented here for the first time.
The conversations and musings have been published as Things That Can and Cannot be Said: Essays and Conversations, Arundhati Roy and John Cusack, by Juggernaut Books on its app and in print.