Arundhati Roy - Booker Prize winner from Kerala,India  
ARUNDHATI ROY | A LIFE FULL OF BEGINNINGS AND NO ENDS

The first Indian citizen to win the prestigious booker prize and a million dollar book deal has made Arundhati Roy, a celebrity and a tall literary lioness persona. Now in her late-30s, living in Delhi, Arundhati Roy (One of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World 1998") grew up in Kerala, in which her award winning novel "The God of Small Things" is set. The novel is a poetic tale of Indian boy-and-girl twins, Estha and Rahel, and their family's tragedies; the story's fulcrum is the death of their 9-year-old half British cousin,Sophie Mol, visiting them on holiday.

As a Keralite myself, I had grown up hearing the stories about the mother of Arundhati Roy, Mary Roy who fought against Christian inheritance law, winning a landmark Supreme Court verdict that granted Christian women in Kerala the right to their parent's property. The mother had fought against an archaic law, while the daughter has to fight a nuisance litigation about the obscenity in her novel. Following the foot-steps of her mother Ms.Roy is more of an activist now, championing the cause of the displaced tribals in Narmada Valley.

Arundhati Roy about her childhood in Kerala :
"A lot of the atmosphere in "God of Small Things" is based on my experiences of what it was like to grow up in Kerala. Most interestingly, it was the only place in the world where religions coincide, there's Christianity, Hinduism, Marxism and Islam and they all live together and rub each other down. When I grew up it was the Marxism that was very strong, it was like the revolution was coming next week. I was aware of the different cultures when I was growing up and I'm still aware of them now. When you see all the competing beliefs against the same background you realise how they all wear each other down. To me, I couldn't think of a better location for a book about human beings.

I think the kind of landscape that you grew up in, it lives in you. I don't think it's true of people who've grown up in cities so much, you may love building but I don't think you can love it in the way that you love a tree or a river or the colour of the earth, it's a different kind of love. I'm not a very well read person but I don't imagine that that kind of gut love for the earth can be replaced by the open landscape. It's a much cleverer person who grows up in the city, savvy and much smarter in many ways. If you spent your very early childhood catching fish and just learning to be quiet, the landscape just seeps into you. Even now I go back to Kerala and it makes me want to cry if something happens to that place.I grew up in very similar circumstances to the children in the book. My mother was divorced. I lived on the edge of the community in a very vulnerable fashion. Then when I was 16 I left home and lived on my own, sort of... you know it wasn't awful, it was just sort of precarious... living in a squatter's colony in Delhi"

What I like most about the "God of Small Things" is the imageries created - the lavish greenery and landscape of Kerala, in a prose which displays the raw gifts for metaphor, rhythm and lyric. An excerpt:
Cover of God of Small Things "May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dust green trees. Red bananas ripen.Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun. The nights are clear, but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation. But by early June the southwest monsoon breaks and there are three months of wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick walls turn moss green. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across the flooded roads."
I am happy that an Indian novelist's narrative is described by New York Times Book Review as " so morally strenuous and so imaginatively supple -- that the reader remains enthralled all the way through".

 
Pictures of Kerala : I had spent my last vacation in Kerala and captured the lavish greenery, Keralite people, back waters and more in this site. As you browse through the pictures you may find landscape and people similar to the imageries created in "God of Small Things" ! 
Arundhati Roy's writing available Online :
Do turkeys enjoy Thanksgiving ?

A strange kind of freedom On war against Iraq.

Come September
Text of the talk at Santa Fe, New Mexico, US about September and aftermath.

War is Peace

Insult and injury in Afghanistan

The algebra of infinite justice 

Links for all the articles available at outlookindia.com

Paradise Pickles &Preserves: Read the first chapter of "God of Small Things" Online !

The End of Imagination : Arundhati Roy muses about the nuclear tests conducted by India, her success and being Indian. I like Arundhati Roy more because of this article than the fiction.

The Greater Common Good:After a visit to Narmada Valley in Gujurat, Arundhati Roy files a story about the plight of tribals displaced by Sardar Sarovar dam. Not so poetic rejoinder by B.G Varghese Thokkadam and Roy's response.

Click to listen Arundhati Roy read from the book.You need RealAudio to listen. Courtesy : BookRadio.com

"God of Small Things" : Book Reviews

A Silver Thimble in Her Fist (New York Times) :A review by Alice Truax.You have to register (free) with NY times to read this review.

Review  by  EMS : EMS Namboodiripad, the late Marxist leader of Kerala and whose name figures in the novel reviews the novel

Salon Magazine : Review by Jennifer Howard

Features about Arundhati Roy (A Life full of Beginnings and no Ends) 

Arundhati Roy -A site by Jon:  A comprehensive web site covering the life,works
and controversy.

Rediff On the Net: Arundhati Roy in a lengthy conversation with Vir Sanghvi, editor Sunday magazine about her life and the book.

India Today : The New Deity of Prose. Cover story about Arundhati Roy from India's premier magazine.
Interview with Arundhati Roy from National Public Radio in Real Audio. Click the picture to listen about growing up in Kerala, caste system and why she wrote the book.

BookRadio.com : Another interview in Real Audio.

 

I don't have the e-mail address of  Ms. Roy. Please don't ask it of me.

This site maintained by Seby Varghese Thokkadam

Disclaimer: This is not an official web site about Arundhati Roy. No warranties are provided about the applicability or correctness of the information in this site or the links. 
This page updated on April 02, 2003