“I have never been particularly ambitious. I am not a careerist, I am not trying to get anywhere in a career. It is more important to engage with society, to live it, to have different experiences”, said Roy, addressing the audience at Sharjah International Book Fair.
Arundhati Roy (November 24, 1961) is an Indian novelist, political activist. She is best known for her first novel The God of Small Things which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. She was also awarded with Sydney Peace Prize in 2004.
Roy was born in Shillong, Meghalaya to a Keralite Christian mother and a Bengali Hindu father. She spent her childhood in Aymanam in Kerala which she mentions in her autobiographical book, The God of Small Things. The novel is filled with Roy’s Childhood memories.
Roy has also concentrated on penning down political issues. She has written on diverse topics such as Narmada Dam project, India’s nuclear weapons and American power giant Enron’s activities in India. She also served as a critic of neo-imperialism and has been linked with anti-globalization movement.
Her career began with television and movies. She wrote screenplays for “In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones” (1989), a movie which talked about her experiences as an architecture student and she appeared as a performer. Later, she wrote for “Electric Moon” (1992) both movies were directed by her husband Pradip Krishen.
Arundhati Roy received great attention in 1994 when she criticized Shekhar Kapoor’s film Bandit Queen based on Phoolan Devi. She denounced the movie calling it “The Great Indian Rape Trick” in her film review. Furthermore, she condemned the fact that the incident was recreated without the consent of the living rape victim. Also, she charged Kapoor with misrepresenting Phoolan Devi’s life and for sketching a very partial picture.
After her much acclaimed novel, Roy began working as a screenplay writer again and wrote for television serials such as “The Banyan Tree” and the documentary “DAM/AGE: A Film with Arundhati Roy” (2002). In early 2007, Roy announced that she would begin working on her second novel.
Roy proficiently uses her celebrity position and her gift of writing. She wrote an essay on dams, “The Greater Common Good” and “The End of Imagination” which reflected her intense condemnation of India’s nuclear testing which shook up the whole country. The elites did not appreciate her critique, the nationalists despised her for questioning India’s nuclear resource.
The author’s subversive nature has made her accustomed to criticism. “Each time I step out, I hear the snicker-snack of knives being sharpened but that’s good. It keeps me sharp”, said Arundhati Roy when interviewed by an Indian magazine.
She won the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award in 2002 for her work regarding the civil societies that are adversely affected by the world’s most tyrannical governments and monopolies. In addition, she was awarded a special recognition as a Woman of Peace at the Global Human Rights Awards in San Francisco in 2003. Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004 for her social campaigns and for promoting tolerance and non-violance.
She also received the Sahitya Akademi Award, a national award from India’s Academy of Letters for her collection of essays on contemporary issues, The Algebra of Infinite Justice. However, she declined it in protest against the Indian Government for pursuing violent and ruthless policies and being brutal to industrial workers and an increasing militarization and economic neo-liberalization. In November 2011, she was awarded the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Writing.