Roy, ArundhatiRoy was born in Shillong, Meghalaya, a rural area and one of the smallest states in India. Her given name is Suzanna Arundhati, but she does not use her anglicised first name. Her father was an alcoholic tea planter, which may have influenced her ideas about love, marriage, economics, politics and the aftermath of colonisation. Her mother was Christian, a minority religion in India, and actively lobbied for rights to property for Christian women upon their fathers’ deaths, which may have influenced Roy’s ideas about feminism, religion and activism. Her mother originally married a Hindu man but divorced him, causing a social outcry. Roy’s mother may have influenced the character of Ammu in The God of Small Things.
Roy trained as an architect but always dreamed of becoming a writer. In 1995, she wrote two newspaper articles criticising a popular director’s film about a poor Indian heroine whom she claimed was exploited in scenes of rape and violence. The public backlash caused her to retreat from public life and focus on her writing. Some might note that since this time Roy has empathised even more with the oppressed. She has written non-fiction books about anti-capitalism and is linked to the far-left Maoist movement in her non-fiction work Walking with the Comrades. She also supports the Naxalites, another far-left movement, known for its peasant revolts. She was accused of sedition when supporting Kashmiri independence but has received numerous honours, such as the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize, for her support of humanitarian causes.
Her major work, published in 1997, is The God of Small Things, a semi-autobiographical novel about family, love, brutality and the caste system, which has sold over six million copies, won her the Man Booker Prize and been translated into over 40 languages. Roy did not complete another work of fiction until 2017, 20 years after her first novel (although she claims that The God of Small Things is actually non-fiction). The Ministry of Utmost Happiness follows the story of a group of outsiders and includes sociopolitical references to the war over ownership of Kashmir, and other contemporary Indian issues. Her other works are political non-fiction and have caused much controversy. She co-authored Things that Can and Cannot Be Said with actor and political activist John Cusack to challenge US power within the world.
Roy lives in New Delhi, India. She co-authored ‘Things That Can & Cannot Be Said’ with actor and political activist John Cusack to challenge US power within the world. Although her strong political opinions divide critics, you cannot fail to be impressed by her bravery and commitment, both of which definitely seep into her gloriously defiant literature.
Author: Vikramjit Kakati
Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
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Arundhati Roy born
Roy trained as an architect
Roy’s second marriage
Roy awarded for screenplay writing
Publication of The God of Small Things
Man Booker Prize
Publication of The Cost of Living
Terrorist or freedom fighter?
Contempt of court
Roy turned down award
‘Most influential’ list
Publication of Things that Can and Cannot Be Said
Publication of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness