Arundhati Roy Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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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Arundhati Roy Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Arundhati Roy’s concerns in her novel The God of Small Things are the same ones she writes about in her nonfiction essays: injustice in social caste systems, inequality of opportunity—and even dignity—between the affluent and the poor, imperialism, and war. In The God of Small Things, however, she has all the various techniques of fiction at her command, and the novel creates a wholly imaginary world world in which scientific realism is cast aside and emotions and instincts of every kind are tested. In addition to the social issues raised, the novel also intensely examines the motivations and secrets of the human psyche. Many other young South Asian women writers have been influenced by Roy’s novel, and the book has the power to enrich South Asian writing in new and innovative ways.

Arundhati Roy Biography (Novels for Students)

Arundhati Roy Published by Gale Cengage

Born circa 1960, Roy grew up in Aymanam, a village in the state of Kerala, in southern India. Her father, a Hindu tea planter from Bengal, was divorced from her Syrian Christian mother when Roy was very young, and Roy was raised by her mother, who ran an informal school. Roy left home when she was sixteen and lived in a squatter’s colony in New Delhi, selling empty beer bottles for a living. She eventually went to architectural school and married a fellow student, Gerard Da Cunha. Both quit their studies and moved to Goa, which is in Southwestern India. Roy eventually left Da Cunha and moved back to New Delhi, where she found a job at the National Institute of Urban Affairs.

While living in New Delhi, Roy met the film director Pradeep Krishen (whom she later married) and accepted a small acting role that he offered. Soon afterwards, she traveled to Italy on a scholarship to study monument restoration. Roy began to write screenplays while she was in Italy, and she and Krishen later collaborated on a television series that was cancelled after they had shot several episodes. She then wrote two screenplays that became films, and she began to write prose until her critical essay of the celebrated film Bandit Queen caused considerable controversy. Roy withdrew to private life to work on her debut novel, which took her nearly five years to complete.

The God of Small Things rapidly became an international sensation, winning Britain’s Booker Prize. After its publication, Roy began to work as a political activist, writing essays and giving speeches on a variety of issues, including capitalist globalization, the rights of oppressed groups, and the negative influence of United States culture and governmental policy on the rest of the world. She has been imprisoned for her positions and activism, but she continues to fight for a variety of liberal causes. Roy received the Sydney Peace Prize in November of 2004.