Arundhati Roy facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Roy in 2013
|Born||Suzanna Arundhati Roy
24 November 1961
Shillong, Assam (present-day Meghalaya), India
|Occupation||Writer, essayist, activist|
|Alma mater||School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi|
|Notable works||The God of Small Things|
Gerard da Cunha
(m. 1978; div. 1982)
|Parents||Mary Roy (mother)|
|Relatives||Prannoy Roy (cousin)|
Suzanna Arundhati Roy (born 24 November 1961) is an Indian author best known for her novel The God of Small Things (1997), which won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997 and became the best-selling book by a non-expatriate Indian author. She is also a political activist involved in human rights and environmental causes.
Arundhati Roy was born in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, to Mary Roy, a Malayali Jacobite Syrian Christian women's rights activist from Kerala and Rajib Roy, a Bengali Hindu tea plantation manager from Calcutta. When she was two, her parents divorced and she returned to Kerala with her mother and brother. For some time, the family lived with Roy's maternal grandfather in Ooty, Tamil Nadu. When she was five, the family moved back to Kerala, where her mother started a school.
Roy attended school at Corpus Christi, Kottayam, followed by the Lawrence School, Lovedale, in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. She then studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, where she met architect Gerard da Cunha. They married in 1978 and lived together in Delhi, and then Goa, before they separated and divorced in 1982.
Roy returned to Delhi, where she obtained a position with the National Institute of Urban Affairs. In 1984, she met independent filmmaker Pradip Krishen, who offered her a role as a goatherd in his award-winning movie Massey Sahib. They later married the same year. They collaborated on a television series about India's independence movement and two films, Annie and Electric Moon. Disenchanted with the film world, Roy experimented with various fields, including running aerobics classes. Roy and Krishen currently live separately but are still married. She became financially secure with the success of her novel The God of Small Things, published in 1997.
Roy is a cousin of prominent media personality Prannoy Roy, the head of the Indian television media group NDTV. She lives in Delhi.
Early career: screenplays
Early in her career, Roy worked in television and movies. She wrote the screenplays for In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones (1989), a movie based on her experiences as a student of architecture, in which she also appeared as a performer, and Electric Moon (1992). Both were directed by her husband, Pradip Krishen, during their marriage. Roy won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay in 1988 for In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones.
The God of Small Things
Roy began writing her first novel, The God of Small Things, in 1992, completing it in 1996. The book is semi-autobiographical and a major part captures her childhood experiences in Aymanam.
The publication of The God of Small Things catapulted Roy to international fame. It received the 1997 Booker Prize for Fiction and was listed as one of The New York Times Notable Books of the Year. It reached fourth position on The New York Times Bestsellers list for Independent Fiction. From the beginning, the book was also a commercial success: Roy received half a million pounds as an advance. It was published in May, and the book had been sold in 18 countries by the end of June.
The God of Small Things received stellar reviews in major American newspapers such as The New York Times (a "dazzling first novel," "extraordinary", "at once so morally strenuous and so imaginatively supple") and the Los Angeles Times ("a novel of poignancy and considerable sweep"), and in Canadian publications such as the Toronto Star ("a lush, magical novel"). It was one of the five best books of 1997 according to Time. Critical response in the United Kingdom was less positive, and the awarding of the Booker Prize caused controversy.
Since the success of her novel, Roy has written a television serial, The Banyan Tree, and the documentary DAM/AGE: A Film with Arundhati Roy (2002).
In early 2007, Roy stated that she was working on a second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
She contributed to We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, a book released in 2009, that explores the culture of peoples around the world, portraying their diversity and the threats to their existence. The royalties from the sale of this book go to the indigenous rights organisation Survival International.
She has written numerous essays on contemporary politics and culture. In 2014, they were collected by Penguin India in a five-volume set. In 2019, her nonfiction was collected in a single volume, My Seditious Heart, published by Haymarket Books.
In October 2016, Penguin India and Hamish Hamilton UK announced that they would publish her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, in June 2017. The novel was chosen for the Man Booker Prize 2017 Long List. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was nominated as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in January 2018.
Since publishing The God of Small Things in 1997, Roy has spent most of her time on political activism and nonfiction (such as collections of essays about social causes). She is a spokesperson of the anti-globalization/alter-globalization movement and a vehement critic of neo-imperialism and U.S. foreign policy. She opposes India's policies toward nuclear weapons as well as industrialization and economic growth (which she describes as "encrypted with genocidal potential" in Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy). She has also questioned the conduct of the Indian police and administration in the case of the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the Batla House encounter case, contending that the country has had a "shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake encounters".
Roy was awarded the 1997 Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things. The award carried a prize of approximately US$30,000 and a citation that noted, "The book keeps all the promises that it makes". Roy donated the prize money she received, as well as royalties from her book, to human rights causes. Prior to the Booker, Roy won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay in 1989, for the screenplay of In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones, in which she captured the anguish among the students prevailing in professional institutions. In 2015, she returned the national award in protest against religious intolerance and the growing violence by rightwing groups in India.
In 2002, she won the Lannan Foundation's Cultural Freedom Award for her work "about civil societies that are adversely affected by the world's most powerful governments and corporations", in order "to celebrate her life and her ongoing work in the struggle for freedom, justice and cultural diversity".
In 2003, she was awarded "special recognition" as a Woman of Peace at the Global Exchange Human Rights Awards in San Francisco with Bianca Jagger, Barbara Lee, and Kathy Kelly.
Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in May 2004 for her work in social campaigns and her advocacy of non-violence. That same year she was awarded the Orwell Award, along with Seymour Hersh, by the National Council of Teachers of English.
In January 2006, she was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, a national award from India's Academy of Letters, for her collection of essays on contemporary issues, The Algebra of Infinite Justice, but she declined to accept it "in protest against the Indian Government toeing the US line by 'violently and ruthlessly pursuing policies of brutalisation of industrial workers, increasing militarisation and economic neo-liberalisation'".
In November 2011, she was awarded the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Writing.
Roy was featured in the 2014 list of Time 100, the 100 most influential people in the world.
- List of Sahitya Akademi Award winners for English
- List of Indian writers
- List of peace activists
- Indian English literature
- Naxalite–Maoist insurgency
- Iraq War