Susanna Arundhati Roy is the first Indian woman to have won Britain’s prestigious, ‘Booker Prize’. She is a well-known author not only in India but abroad as well.
Arundhati Roy Early Life
Arundhati was born on November 24, 1961, in Bengal. She is the daughter of Mary Roy, a popular social activist, and her father is a Bengali Hindu tea planter. Her parents separated when she was very young.
She grew up in Aymanam village, Kottayam, Kerala. Later she did her formal education in Corpus Christi School, run by her mother in Kottayam District, Kerala.
She was just 16 when she left her home and settled in Delhi. Arundhati did her degree in Architecture at the Delhi School of Architecture.
Arundhati Roy First Marriage & Further Studies
She met Gerard Da Cunha, a fellow architecture student during this period and married him. But sadly, their marriage lasted only for four years.
After a brief stint in the field of architecture, she realized that it was not her cup of tea. Then she left for Goa, making a life out at the beach, but in a few months, she got tired of it and returned back to Delhi.
Then Arundhati took a job at the National Institute of Urban Affairs where she met Pradeep Krishen, a film director, and now her husband.
He offered her a small role in Massey Saab. She went to Italy on a scholarship for eight months to study the restoration of monuments. During those months in Italy, she realised that she was a writer.
Arundhati Roy Career as a Writer
When Arundhati returned from Italy, she worked with Pradeep Krishen. They planned an episode television for the Doordarshan called the Banyan Tree. However it did not materialize and producers shelved it after shooting 2–3 episodes.
She wrote and starred in In Which Annie Gives it Those Ones, a film on college life in India, based on her experiences in the University of Delhi, and wrote the screenplay for Pradeep Krishen’s film, Electric Moon (1992).
Arundhati Roy quickly came to the limelight for her work as a screenwriter.
She wrote a series of essays called The Great Indian Rope Trick which attracted media attention. She defended former dacoit Phoolan Devi, who she felt Shekhar Kapur exploited in the film, ‘Bandit Queen’.
Arundhati Roy Success as Writer
Her debut novel, The God of Small Things shot her into prominence in 1997, by winning the prestigious British Booker prize in London and becoming an international bestseller.
The book, which took almost five years to complete, gives an insight into the social and political life in a village in South India through the eyes of seven year old twins and how it effects/disrupts their small lives.
The book won £20,000 as prize and sold nearly 400,000 copies globally by October that year. With The Cost of Living, a book comprising two essays, The Greater Common Good (1999), and The End of Imagination (1998), she turned into activism.
The Cost of Living, is against Indian Governments massive dam projects which displaced millions of poor people and The Greater Common Good, is its testing of nuclear weapons.
Arundhati Roy Political Activities
She has been an active participant in public demonstrations against the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River in Western India.
She has donated a substantial amount around 1.5 million rupees, equivalent to her Booker Prize money, for the cause. Police arrested them along with other protestors campaigning for the cause.
Her latest published book is We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples.
She has also spoken on and published several articles such as Promotion of equal rights supporting equal rights for the lower castes in India, War on Terrorism (2001) against the Iraq war, and commented on War in Sri Lanka (2009) and US policy in Afghanistan.
With her publications, Arundhati has carved a niche for herself as a political journalist. She now lives in Delhi with her husband, Pradeep Krishen and her two daughters, Pia and Mithva from her previous marriage.
Arundhati Roy Award and Recognition
She was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in May 2004 for her work in social campaigns and advocacy of non-violence. In June 2005, she took part in World Tribunal on Iraq.
Later in January 2006, Government awarded him the Sahitya Academy award for her collection of Essays, ‘The Algebra of Infinite Justice’, but she declined it.
In November 2011, she was awarded the Norman Mailer Prize for distinguished writing. Her another novel titled The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been published in 2017.
In 2013, Roy described Narendra Modi’s nomination for the prime ministerial candidate as a “tragedy”.
She further said that the business houses were supporting his candidacy because he was the “most militaristic and aggressive” candidate.