God of Small Things (Roy)

Author Bio
Birth—November 21, 1961
Where—Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Education—School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi
Awards—Booker Prize, 1997
Currently—lives in New Dheli, India

Arundhati Roy was trained as an architect and is also an award-winning screenwriter. The God of Small Things is her first novel. Like her twin protagonists, she was raised near her grandmother's pickle factory in Kerala, India. She now resides in New Delhi.

Suzanna Arundhati Roy is an Indian novelist, writer and activist. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her first novel, The God of Small Things and in 2002, the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize.

Roy was born in Shillong, Meghalaya to a Keralite Syrian Christian mother, the women's rights activist Mary Roy, and a Bengali Hindu father, a tea planter by profession. She spent her childhood in Ayamenem in Kerala, and went to school in Corpus Christi, Kottayam, followed by The Lawrence School, Lovedale in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. She then studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, where she met her first husband, architect Gerard DaCunha.

Roy met her second husband, filmmaker Pradip Krishen, in 1984, and became involved in film-making under his influence. She played a village girl in the award-winning movie Massey Sahib.

Roy is a niece of the prominent media personality Prannoy Roy and lives in New Delhi.

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 Ayemenem. The book received the 1997 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, was listed as one of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year for 1997. The book reached fourth position in the New York Times Bestsellers list for Independent Fiction. She received half a million pounds as an advance, and rights to the book were sold in 21 countries.

The God of Small Things received good reviews, including one from John Updike in The New Yorker. Carmen Callil, chair of the Booker judges panel in 1996 though, called The God of Small Things "an execrable book" and said it should never have reached the shortlist.

Roy wrote the screenplays for In Which Annie Gives it Those Ones (1989) and Electric Moon (1992) and a television serial The Banyan Tree. She also wrote the documentary DAM/AGE: A Film with Arundhati Roy (2002).

The God of Small Things is the only novel written by Roy. She has since devoted herself solely to nonfiction and politics, publishing two more collections of essays, as well as working for social causes. She is a figure-head of the anti-globalization/alter-globalization movement and a vehement critic of neo-imperialism and of the global policies of the United States. She also criticizes India's nuclear weapons policies and the approach to industrialization and rapid development as currently being practiced in India, including the Narmada Dam project and the power company Enron's activities in India.

Roy has campaigned along with activist Medha Patkar against the Narmada dam project, saying that the dam will displace half a million people, with little or no compensation, and will not provide the projected irrigation, drinking water and other benefits. Roy donated her Booker prize money as well as royalties from her books on the project to the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Arundhati Roy's opposition to the Narmada Dam project has been criticised as "anti-Gujarat" by Congress and BJP leaders in Gujarat.

In 2002, Roy was convicted of contempt of court by the Indian Supreme Court for accusing the court of attempting to silence protests against the Narmada Dam Project. In its judgement, the Supreme Court Of India noted "we feel that the ends of justice would be met if she is sentenced to symbolic one day's imprisonment besides paying a fine of Rs. 2000." Roy served the prison sentence and paid the fine.

Environmental historian Ramachandra Guha has been critical of Roy's Narmada dam activism. While acknowledging her "courage and commitment" to the cause, Guha writes that her advocacy is hyperbolic and self-indulgent, "Ms. Roy's tendency to exaggerate and simplify, her Manichean view of the world, and her shrill hectoring tone, have given a bad name to environmental analysis". He faults Roy's criticism of Supreme Court judges who were hearing a petition brought by the Narmada Bachao Andolan as careless and irresponsible.

Roy counters that her writing is intentional in its passionate, hysterical tone — "I am hysterical. I'm screaming from the bloody rooftops. And he and his smug little club are going 'Shhhh...you'll wake the neighbours!' I want to wake the neighbours, that's my whole point. I want everybody to open their eyes." (From Wikipedia.)

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