Sawnet - Bookshelf -
Born in 1961 in Bengal, Arundhati Roy grew up in Kerala.
She trained as an architect at the
Delhi School of Architecture, but abandoned the field and became better known for her
complex, scathing film scripts. She wrote and starred in
Which Annie Gives it Those Ones, and wrote the script for Pradip
Kishen's Electric Moon. Media attention came
when she spoke
out in suapport of
Phoolan Devi, who she felt had been exploited
by Shekhar Kapur's film
Bandit Queen. The controversy escalated
into a court case, after which she retired to private life to
work on her first book, The God of Small Things, which was
published in 1997. The half-million
pound advance on this book, more than Vikram Seth's for A Suitable
Boy, shot her to fame again. As the daughter of
Mary Roy, the woman
whose court case changed the inheritance laws in favour of women,
she was closely acquainted with the Syrian Christian traditions
which feature prominently in the book.
She says "a feminist is a woman who negotiates herself into a position
where she has choices.."
The God of Small Things, won Britain's premier book prize, the
Booker McConnell, in 1997. Although Indian authors such as Salman
Rushdie and Rohinton Mistry have featured in the Booker shortlist,
and Rushdie's Midnight's Children won the 'Booker of Bookers',
Roy is the first non-expatriate Indian author and the first Indian
woman to have won this prize. To top it all, this happened in
1997, India's 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.
As always, the exclusions and choices of the Booker judges created
some controversy, with some critics praising the lush imagery of
Roy's book while others referred to it as 'tripe'. The book has
also attracted a lawsuit and angry
criticism from Kerala's leftists. Newsclips follow.
Much speculation ensued about her next project: would it be a play,
another novel, or poetry? Roy squelched the gossip by saying that she
might never write another novel and had no intentions of trying to
rival the success of her first. In keeping with her longtime interest
in social issues, she has immersed herself in causes such as the
anti-nuclear movement and the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Her two major
essays, The End of Imagination and The Greater Common
Good are available online as well as in print. Her personal
fame has drawn attention and donations to these causes, and she
has also made significant monetary contributions herself. Her
involvement in these causes has also attracted controversy, with
some criticism from all sides of the political spectrum.
Algebra of Infinite Justice. The Guardian, 29 Sep 01. See also
Culture Clash -- a
response by Salil Tripathi.
- Insult and
Injury in Afghanistan. MSNBC, 20 Oct 2001.
- War is Peace. In Outlook, 29 Oct 01.
bombing Afghanistan. Roy says that war cannot eradicate terrorism,
while in Paris accepting a humanitarian award.
we leave it to the experts?. An essay about writing and activism,
in Outlook. 14 Jan 2002.
- The End
of Imagination Roy on India's Nuclear Bomb. August 1998.
Roy donates a Malayalam edition of the book to support Dalits
and Dalit literature. Hindu, Feb 99.
- Roy slams rising fundamentalism.
9 Feb 99.
- The Great Indian Rape-Trick. Roy's
biting criticism of Shekhar Kapur's film about Phoolan Devi, 'Bandit
Queen'. A pair of articles which led to a court case in 1994.
Anti-American. Ian Buruma in The New Republic, 29 Apr 2002. He
"Roy has become the perfect Third World voice for anti-American,
or anti-Western, or even anti-white, sentiments. Those are sentiments
to the hearts of intellectuals everywhere, including the United States
Clash -- a
response by Salil Tripathi to The Algebra of Infinite Justice.
makes me an expert on Arundhati Roy?. Reeta Sinha in Outlook.
Licence, B.G. Verghese in Outlook, responding to The Greater
- Anil Nair
criticizes Roy's activist articles in Rediff.
- Court summons Arundhati Roy -- an
update of Sabu Thomas' lawsuit against Roy and the book.
- The Brit reaction to the Booker
- Roy wins, amid rumblings of
Booker Prize, a discussion from Emory U's postcolonial site.
|Photo by Pradip Kishen
- About Arundhati Roy
special on Arundhati Roy
Girl Next Door -- at a book signing in Bangalore.
Creative Rebel from Pugmarks,
Audio of Roy on NPR, aired June 16, 1997.
Mehta, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy discuss India's independence
and the effect it's had on politics, culture and religions.
Real Audio, from NPR's Talk of the Nation. August 14, 1997.
Jon Simmons' Arundhati Roy web page covers her childhood, life, writing,
the Booker, controversy and the future.
- Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire
South End Press (2004)
- In Which Annie Gives it Those Ones
Penguin. First published 1988. (2004)
- Way back in 1988, Arundhati Roy wrote the screenplay for this low-budget film by Pradip Krishen. Set in a School of Architecture very like the Delhi School that she had attended, it is the story of a group of college students in their final year. Annie (Anand Grover) is in his 9th year and in love with a cabaret dancer. Radha (played by Roy herself) is bright and idealistic, Lekha is coy and manipulative, Kasozi is from Uganda and grinds his teeth and night....The film stars, among others, Roshan Seth as Professor of Design, and Shahrukh Khan in an early role.
Penguin has now issued the screenplay in a lovely edition.
- Review by Jon Simmons
- Review in the Hindu
- The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile
with David Barsamian. South End Press. (2004)
- Four long conversations between Arundhati Roy and David Barsamian, cutting edge radio producer. Beginning in February 2001, the talks presage the September 2001 attack and trace the subsequent War on Terror to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Arundhati Roy eloquently represents the thoughts of people worldwide who are coming to know the United States through the machinations of multinational corporations and the military.
- War Talk
South End Press (2003)
- War Talk highlights the global rise of militarism and religious and racial violence. Against the backdrop of nuclear brinkmanship between India and Pakistan, the horrific massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, and U.S. demands for an ever-expanding war on terror, she calls into question the equation of nation and ethnicity.
- Power Politics
South End Press, Cambridge, Mass. (2002)
- In Power Politics, Arundhati Roy challenges the idea that only "experts" can speak out on such urgent matters as the globalization of the world economy, the privatization of India's power supply by U.S.-based energy companies, and the construction of monumental dams that will dislocate hundreds of thousands of people. Roy takes us to the frontlines of struggles for social justice and a humane, democratic future.
- The Cost of Living
Random House (1999)
- Roy's argument against the Narmada Dam. The second half of the book contains her essay on India's detonation of a nuclear bomb. She argues that rather than bringing power to India, the bomb is the "ultimate colonizer" -- "the most antihuman, outright evil thing."
- The Greater Common Good
Available online at Outlook. 24 Mar 99. [Poetic
Licence, B.G. Verghese's rejoinder to this essay]
Greater Common Good II, a response by Roy.
- Friends of the River Narmada, an
Indian Supreme Court unhappy with NBA leaders and Arundhati Roy.
Hindu, 16 Oct 99.
Medha Patkar win the Booker? Mahesh Nair criticizes Roy's social
activism, in Rediff.
turned social activist. Christian Science Monitor, 17 Aug 99.
- Indian Booker Prize winner turns
eco-warrior. AFP, 29 Jul 99.
- Threat to burn copies of Roy's
- Gujarat bans Arundhati, other's entry. Hindustan Times, 2 Aug 99.
is in court facing charges of contempt and inciting violence. BBC.
- The End of Imagination
- The God of Small Things
Random House, New York. Booker-Prize winning novel. (1997)
No small achievement -- Ruth Vanita's review in
Truax in the New York Times Book Review.
- Michiko Kakatuni in the New York Times
- Wordsworth interview with Roy
- Roy on NPR's
Morning Edition, 12 Aug 1997.
- Caste and
the God of Small Things -- a discussion from Emory U.'s
South Asian Women authors