Facts about Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy is 62 years old
Birthplace: Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Best known as: The author of the 1997 novel The God of Small Things

     
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Arundhati Roy Biography

Name at birth: Suzanna Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy is the Indian social activist and author whose novel The God of Small Things won the prestigious Booker Prize for literature in 1997.

Roy is a unusual blend of artist and activist. She left home in 1976 and attended the Delhi School of Architecture, but did not make architecture her profession. In 1984 she met her future husband, film director Pradip Krishen. She went on to write the TV movie In Which Annie Gives it Those Ones (1989, in which she also starred), and Electric Moon (1992).

After souring on the film industry she turned to writing fiction; her first effort was the remarkable The God of Small Things, a tragic story of Indian twins Estha and Rahel and a family entangled in the rigid Indian caste system. It sold six million copies and made her famous.

She spent the next decade writing and speaking on political topics like India’s nuclear weapons programs, the Narmada Dam, and the war in Iraq. Her non-fiction books include The Cost of Living (1999), Power Politics (2002), War Talk (2003), Kashmir: The Case for Freedom (2011), Capitalism: A Ghost Story (2014) and My Seditious Heart: Collected Non-Fiction (2019).

She announced in 2007 that she was beginning work on a second novel. That led, 10 years later, to the publication of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. The novel followed India’s poor and unrepresented people, from religious minorities to transgender people, across moments in Indian history.

Extra credit

Some sources say Arundhati Roy was born in 1961; we take the word of the U.S. Library of Congress, The Lannan Foundation, the Center for the Humanities, The New York Times, and other sources who say she was born in 1959. The introduction to her interview with The Paris Review, published in 2021, said that Roy “left home in 1976 to attend the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi”; that move would seem more likely the year she turned 17 than 15… Arundhati Roy was the first Indian woman to win the Booker Prize… She was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004 for her non-violent devotion to social causes… The title The God of Small Things refers to the character Velutha, a family handyman… Arundhati Roy has been married twice: to the architect Gerard da Cunha (from 1978 until their divorce in 1982) and to filmmaker Pradip Krishen (married 1984). Krishen, a widow, had two children from his previous marriage. A 2014 New York Times article said Krishen “gives the impression of a flinty loyalty toward Roy even though the couple split up.”


     

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