"The God of Small Things" writer Arundhati Roy, was born 24 September 1961 and is an Indian writer who won the Booker Prize for her afor-mentioned novel. The writing of her novel, two screenplays and several short stories all revolve around the social, political and environmental issues that are rife throughout India, and relevant to many countries across the world.
It comes as no surprise that this opinionated and talented writer was born to women's rights activist Mary Roy. Her field of study was architecture, but her field of experience ranged as wide as it was diverse. She worked various jobs, such as running an aerobics class at five-star hotels in New Delhi and playing a village girl in her second husband Pradip Krishen's award-winning film "Mssey Sahib." It wasn't until Roy published "The God of Small Things" that she finally found financial stability, but with the novel's publishing a degree of controversy that concerned all her works.
This novel - her first - took four years to complete and is somewhat semi-autobiographical in that it captures many of her childhood experience in Aymanam. Outside of India the book recieved great acclaim and almost instantly catapulted the writer to international fame. Within India, much criticism was recieved for the unrestrained depiction of sexuality, for which she had to answer to charges of obscurity.
Since "The God of Small Things," Roy now dedicates herself to nonfiction and politics, as well as working for social causes. She stands as a spokesperson for the anti-globilisation movement and a vehement critic of neo-imperialism, as well as of the global policies of the United States in particular. According to Roy, George Bush and Tony Blair were guilty of a "Big-Brother kind of doublethink": "When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said: 'We're a peaceful nation.' America's favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, echoed him: 'We're a peaceful people.' So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace."
To view various videos with Arundhati Roy in them, follow the links below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbZMUInKDGI - "To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." - Arundhati Roy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnTS9gHCZoI - An interview by Fault Lines presenter Avi Lewis.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAXXtcCLgyQ - a reading by Arundhati Roy from her novel at the Prague Writer's Festival.
http://www.india-today.com/itoday/27101997/cov.html - An article on the writer in on the website India Today.
The following is an extract as told to M.G. Radhakrishnan, of Mary Roy discussing her daughter and herself:
"Arundhati is a born talker and a born writer. While she was studying in our school it was a problem to find a teacher who could cope with her voracious appetite for reading and writing. Most of the time she educated herself. I can remember our vice-principal Sneha Zakaria resorting to Shakespeare's Tempest as a text for this little fourth-grader.
Years later Arundhati was overjoyed when I gifted her a Baby Remington typewriter. "Just the right thing for a writer," I remember her saying. Soon she exchanged it for a desk-top computer on which she wrote The God of Small Things.
There was much trauma for me in the '60s as Kottayam did not accept me as I was a woman separated from my husband. We are not divorced, though. I tried to hide the pain from my children. It is only when I read her book that I realised that even at five she was conscious that we were unwelcome in the native home and that I expected her to be able to stand on her own feet, so that she would never be in such a weak position as I was.
Later when she grew up she always stood beside me in my struggles. In the book Arundhati lampoons almost all the people who surrounded her at that time. Some of them might take offence. But she never meant to hurt anybody. Remember, it is a work of fiction. She had drawn the bare bones of the characters from the family. But it is not wise of me to say that I am 'Ammu'.
I am delighted to know that she has won the Booker. Today I am a proud mother receiving congratulations from all over India. The prime minister and President called to congratulate Arundhati.
Arundhati lived with us in a small and rather modern house. Next door was the ancestral house. Spooky, huge, too large to maintain, but to my daughter it must have been an exciting place full of whispering ancestors. I wasn't surprised that it forms the backdrop to her tale. One of my favourite characters in the book is the cigar-smoking, gay planter. He reminds me of our cigar-smoking grand uncle, a chemistry professor, a lover of boys by nature. His wife lived with him and so did a series of young boys. As Diana, Princess of Wales, might have said, the marriage had become a bit crowded.
I remember hearing that one day a young lover of his was thrown out of the house. The old man was devastated. We heard he left home and headed for a hotel where he committed suicide -- cyanide poisoning. The next year on the same day and in the same hotel his lover was found dead -- cyanide again. Tongues wagged in Ayemenem, but no one dared to whisper the word "homosexual". There is a legend about our grand uncle. That he haunted the family estates, his presence forewarned by the scent of cigar smoke. In fact, many claim to have seen him. Eventually, so one hears, a Paravan's (outcaste) wife Parathi, while cutting grass with her sickle, smelled cigar smoke and she shivered. Sure enough, the thampuran (master) appeared. She nailed him to a coconut palm with her sickle. Parathi claims that he never appeared again. But others say the ghost still walks the house.
We did consider this house with its spacious lawns as a setting for the release of the book. But the cloying ambience of the past and whispering ancestors made my lovely school with its exuberant youngsters and its "aliveness" a happier venue."