Arundhati Roy Biography


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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(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.


(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,...

(The entire section is 326 words.)