Suzanna Arundhati Roy is the child of a Christian mother from the south Indian state of Kerala and a Bengali Hindu father, who was the administrator of a tea plantation. She grew up in Aymenem, Kerala, India, where she attended an unconventional school, Corpus Christi, operated by her mother, Mary Roy. Both the social atmosphere of the varied religions of Kerala (Hindu, Muslim, and Christian) and the natural history of the rural area are part of the background and atmosphere of her novel, The God of Small Things (1997). By her own admission, Roy grew up very much as the children in the novel did. Her mother was divorced, and the vulnerable family lived on the outskirts of the village.
When she was sixteen, Roy left home to be on her own, and for a while she lived a precarious existence in a squatter’s camp in Delhi. After some time she enrolled in the Delhi School of Planning and Architecture, which had an influence on her writing. She brought the same structure of recurring motifs that she found in architecture to her novel, which she shaped by the way words, paragraphs, and punctuation fall structurally on the page. Roy married a fellow architectural student, Gerard da Cunha. Da Cunha eventually went on to receive the Prime Minister’s National Award for Excellence in Urban Planning and Design, offered by the Ministry of Urban Development, in 2006. His marriage to Roy, however, lasted only four years, and during that time they moved to Goa to sell things on the beach and live like flower children. Unhappy in such a commercial tourist destination, Roy returned to Delhi and found a job in the National Institute of Urban Affairs.
The Indian film director Pradeep Krishen noticed Roy one day and offered her a small role in the film Massey Sahib (1985). Soon after, she received a scholarship to study the restoration of monuments in Italy for eight months. Roy realized she was a writer while in Italy. She married Krishen, and together they planned a television epic in twenty-six episodes for Doordarshan, the public television...
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