Who is Arundhati Roy?

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  • Written By: Wanda Albano
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  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2019
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Arundhati Roy, born on 24 November 1961, is an award-winning novelist and essayist from India. Her critically acclaimed novel, God of Small Things, garnered the Booker Prize in 1997 as well as the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize in 2002. She has parlayed her success into a million dollar book deal and was included in People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" in 1998.

Arundhati Roy was born to a Syrian Christian mother in Meghalaya and spent her childhood in Kerala, a place that takes center stage in her one and only published work of fiction to date. She left Kerala at age 16 and embraced a bohemian lifestyle in New Delhi, even selling empty beer bottles to make a living. She eventually attended New Delhi's School of Planning and Architecture. It was during this time that she met her first husband, architect Gerard DaCunha. In 1984, she married filmmaker Pradip Krishen.


Arundhati Roy's mother, Mary Roy, is most famous for decrying an archaic law that denied Christian women in India the right to inherit their parent's property. Mary Roy won a landmark Supreme Court decision and the law has since been repealed. Perhaps following in her mother's activist footsteps, Arundhati Roy has shifted her attention from literature to various political projects, most famous of which is her campaign against the Narmada Dam Project, which she claimed could displace over half a million people with little compensation. So strong was her belief in this cause that she donated much of her Booker Prize money, as well as earnings from various non-fiction publications, to the campaign.

Arundhati Roy is also famously against globalization, the United States' foreign policies, and India's nuclear weapons armament. Roy has been called anti-American on numerous occasions, especially in regard to her reaction to the US led invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks in New York.

Arundhati Roy received the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004 for her various campaign work and stance on non-violence. She announced work on a second novel in early 2007.


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