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Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy speaking at the 2007 World Tribunal on Iraq.
Born 24 November 1961 (1961-11-24) (age 48)
Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Occupation Novelist, essayist
Nationality Indian
Period 1997-present

Suzanna Arundhati Roy (born 24 November 1961) is an Indian writer who writes in English and an activist who focuses on issues related to social justice and economic inequality. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and has also written two screenplays and several collections of essays.

For her work as an activist she received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in 2002.


Early life and background

Arundhati Roy was born in Shillong, Meghalaya,[1] India, to a Keralite Syrian Christian mother, the women's rights activist Mary Roy, and a Bengali father, a tea planter by profession.

She spent her childhood in Aymanam in Kerala, and went to school at Corpus Christi, Kottayam, followed by the Lawrence School, Lovedale, in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. She then studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, where she met her first husband, architect Gerard da Cunha.

Roy met her second husband, filmmaker Pradip Krishen, in 1984, and played a village girl in his award-winning movie Massey Sahib. Until made financially stable by the success of her novel The God of Small Things, she worked various jobs, including running aerobics classes at New Delhi five-star hotels. Roy is a cousin of prominent media personality Prannoy Roy, the head of the leading Indian TV media group NDTV,[2] and lives in New Delhi.


Literary career

Early career: screenplays

Early in her career, Roy worked for television and movies. She wrote the screenplays for In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones (1989), a movie based on her experiences as a student of architecture, directed by her current husband, and Electric Moon (1992); in both she also appeared as a performer. Roy attracted attention in 1994, when she criticised Shekhar Kapur's film Bandit Queen, based on the life of Phoolan Devi. In her film review titled, 'The Great Indian Rape Trick', she questioned the right to "restage the rape of a living woman without her permission," and charged Kapur with exploiting Devi and misrepresenting both her life and its meaning.[3][4]

The God of Small Things

Roy began writing her first novel, The God of Small Things, in 1992, completing it in 1996.[5] The book is semi-autobiographical and a major part captures her childhood experiences in Aymanam.[1]

The publication of The God of Small Things catapulted Roy to instant international fame. It received the 1997 Booker Prize for Fiction and was listed as one of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year for 1997.[6] It reached fourth position on the New York Times Bestsellers list for Independent Fiction.[7] From the beginning, the book was also a commercial success: Roy received half a million pounds as an advance;[4] It was published in May, and the book had been sold to eighteen countries by the end of June.[5]

The God of Small Things received stellar reviews in major American newspapers such as The New York Times (a "dazzling first novel,"[8] "extraordinary," "at once so morally strenuous and so imaginatively supple"[9]) and the Los Angeles Times ("a novel of poignancy and considerable sweep"[10]), and in Canadian publications such as the Toronto Star ("a lush, magical novel"[11]). By the end of the year, it had become one of the five best books of 1997 by TIME.[12] Critical response in the United Kingdom was less positive, and that the novel was awarded the Booker Prize caused controversy; Carmen Callil, a 1996 Booker Prize judge, called the novel "execrable," and The Guardian called the contest "profoundly depressing."[13] In India, the book was criticized especially for its unrestrained description of sexuality by E. K. Nayanar,[14] then Chief Minister of Roy's homestate Kerala, where she had to answer charges of obscenity.[15]

Later career

Since the success of her novel, Roy has been working as a screenplay writer again, writing a television serial, The Banyan Tree,[citation needed] and the documentary DAM/AGE: A Film with Arundhati Roy (2002).

In early 2007, Roy announced that she would begin work on a second novel.[4][16]

Arundhati Roy was one of the contributors on the book We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, released in October 2009.[17] The book explores the culture of peoples around the world, portraying their diversity and the threats to their existence. The royalties from the sale of this book go to the indigenous rights organization Survival International.

Advocacy and controversy

Since The God of Small Things Roy has devoted herself mainly to nonfiction and politics, publishing two more collections of essays, as well as working for social causes. She is a spokesperson of the anti-globalization/alter-globalization movement and a vehement critic of neo-imperialism and of the global policies of the United States. She also criticizes India's nuclear weapons policies and the approach to industrialization and rapid development as currently being practiced in India, including the Narmada Dam project and the power company Enron's activities in India.

Support for Kashmiri separatism

In an interview with Times of India published in August 2008, Arundhati Roy expressed her support for the independence of Kashmir from India after massive demonstrations in favor of independence took place—some 500,000 separatists rallied in Srinagar in the Kashmir part of Jammu and Kashmir state of India for independence on 18 August 2008, according to Time magazine.[18] She took the rallies as a clear sign that Kashmiris desire independence from India, and not union with India.[19] She was criticized by Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for her remarks,[20] but along with Roy some mainstream Indian journalists, such as Vir Sanghvi (executive editor of the Hindustan Times),[21] Jug Suraiya (editor of the The Times of India),[22] and Swaminathan Aiyar (also at The Times of India),[23] have argued similarly.[24]

Sardar Sarovar Project

Roy has campaigned along with activist Medha Patkar against the Narmada dam project, saying that the dam will displace half a million people, with little or no compensation, and will not provide the projected irrigation, drinking water and other benefits.[25] Roy donated her Booker prize money as well as royalties from her books on the project to the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Roy also appears in Franny Armstrong's Drowned Out, a 2002 documentary about the project.[26] Roy's opposition to the Narmada Dam project was criticised as "maligning Gujarat" by Congress and BJP leaders in Gujarat.[27]

In 2002, Roy responded to a contempt notice issued against her by the Indian Supreme Court with an affidavit saying the court's decision to initiate the contempt proceedings based on an unsubstantiated and flawed petition, while refusing to inquire into allegations of corruption in military contracting deals pleading an overload of cases, indicated a "disquieting inclination" by the court to silence criticism and dissent using the power of contempt.[28] The court found Roy's statement, which she refused to disavow or apologize for, constituted criminal contempt and sentenced her to a "symbolic" one day's imprisonment and fined Roy Rs. 2500.[29] Roy served the jail sentence for a single day and opted to pay the fine rather than serve an additional three months' imprisonment for default.[30]

Environmental historian Ramachandra Guha has been critical of Roy's Narmada dam activism. While acknowledging her "courage and commitment" to the cause, Guha writes that her advocacy is hyperbolic and self-indulgent,[31] "Ms. Roy's tendency to exaggerate and simplify, her Manichean view of the world, and her shrill hectoring tone, have given a bad name to environmental analysis".[32] He faults Roy's criticism of Supreme Court judges who were hearing a petition brought by the Narmada Bachao Andolan as careless and irresponsible.

Roy counters that her writing is intentional in its passionate, hysterical tone: "I am hysterical. I'm screaming from the bloody rooftops. And he and his smug little club are going 'Shhhh... you'll wake the neighbours!' I want to wake the neighbours, that's my whole point. I want everybody to open their eyes".[33]

Gail Omvedt and Roy have had a fierce discussions, in open letters, on Roy's strategy for the Narmada Dam movement. Though the activists disagree on whether to demand stopping the dam building all together (Roy) or searching for intermediate alternatives (Omvedt), the exchange has mostly been, though critical, constructive.[34]

United States foreign policy, the War in Afghanistan

In a 2001 opinion piece in the British newspaper The Guardian, Arundhati Roy responded to the US military invasion of Afghanistan, finding fault with the argument that this war would be a retaliation for the September 11 attacks: "The bombing of Afghanistan is not revenge for New York and Washington. It is yet another act of terror against the people of the world." According to her, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were guilty of a Big Brother-kind of doublethink: "When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said: 'We're a peaceful nation.' America's favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of prime minister of the UK), echoed him: 'We're a peaceful people.' So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace."

She disputes U.S. claims of being a peaceful and freedom-loving nation, listing China and nineteen 3rd World "countries that America has been at war with - and bombed - since the second world war", as well as previous U.S. support for the Taliban movement and support for the Northern Alliance (whose "track record is not very different from the Taliban's"). She does not spare the Taliban: "Now, as adults and rulers, the Taliban beat, stone, rape and brutalise women, they don't seem to know what else to do with them."

In the final analysis, Roy sees American-style capitalism as the culprit: "In America, the arms industry, the oil industry, the major media networks, and, indeed, US foreign policy, are all controlled by the same business combines." She puts the attacks on the World Trade Center and on Afghanistan on the same moral level, that of terrorism, and mourns the impossibility of imagining beauty after 2001: "Will it be possible ever again to watch the slow, amazed blink of a newborn gecko in the sun, or whisper back to the marmot who has just whispered in your ear - without thinking of the World Trade Centre and Afghanistan?"[35]

In May 2003 she delivered a speech entitled "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy" at the Riverside Church in New York City. In it she described the United States as a global empire that reserves the right to bomb any of its subjects at any time, deriving its legitimacy directly from God. The speech was an indictment of the U.S. actions relating to the Iraq War.[36][37] In June 2005 she took part in the World Tribunal on Iraq. In March 2006, Roy criticized US President George W. Bush's visit to India, calling him a "war criminal."[38]

India's nuclear weaponisation

In response to India's testing of nuclear weapons in Pokhran, Rajasthan, Roy wrote The End of Imagination (1998), a critique of the Indian government's nuclear policies. It was published in her collection The Cost of Living (1999), in which she also crusaded against India's massive hydroelectric dam projects in the central and western states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Criticism of Israel

In August 2006, Roy, along with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and others, signed a letter in The Guardian called the 2006 Lebanon War a "war crime" and accused Israel of "state terror."[39] In 2007, Roy was one of more than 100 artists and writers who signed an open letter initiated by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism and the South West Asian, North African Bay Area Queers and calling on the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival "to honor calls for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions, by discontinuing Israeli consulate sponsorship of the LGBT film festival and not cosponsoring events with the Israeli consulate."[40][41]

2001 Indian Parliament attack

Roy has raised questions about the investigation into the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the trial of the accused. She has called for the death sentence of Mohammad Afzal to be stayed while a parliamentary enquiry into these questions are conducted and denounced press coverage of the trial.[42] The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has criticized Roy for what it alleges is defence of a terrorist going against the national interest.[43]

The Muthanga incident

In 2003, the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha, a social movement for adivasi land rights in Kerala, organized a major land occupation of a piece of land of a former Eucalyptus plantation in the Muthanga Wildlife Reserve, on the border of Kerala and Karnataka. After 48 days, a police force was sent into the area to evict the occupants—one participant of the movement and a policeman were killed, and the leaders of the movement were arrested. Arundhati Roy travelled to the area, visited the movement's leaders in jail, and wrote an open letter to the then Chief Minister of Kerala, A.K. Antony now India's Defence Minister, saying "You have blood on your hands."[44]

Comments on 2008 Mumbai attacks

In an opinion piece for The Guardian (13 December 2008), Roy argued that the November 2008 Mumbai attacks can not be seen in isolation, but must be understood in the context of wider issues in the region's history and society such as widespread poverty, the Partition of India (which Roy calls "Britain's final, parting kick to us"), the atrocities committed during the 2002 Gujarat violence, and the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Despite this call for context, Roy states clearly in the article that she believes "nothing can justify terrorism" and calls terrorism "a heartless ideology." Roy warns against war with Pakistan, arguing that it is hard to "pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state", and that war could lead to the "descent of the whole region into chaos".[45] Her remarks were strongly criticized by Salman Rushdie and others, who condemned her for linking the Bombay attacks with Kashmir and economic injustice against Muslims in India;[46] Rushdie specifically criticized Roy for attacking the iconic status of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.[47] Indian writer Tavleen Singh called Roy's comments "he latest of her series of hysterical diatribes against India and all things Indian."[48]

War in Srilanka against Tamil rebels, 2009

In an opinion piece, once again in The Guardian (April 1, 2009), Roy made a plea for international attention to what she perceived, based on reports, to be a possible government-sponsored genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. She cited reports of camps into which Tamils were being herded as part of what she described as "a brazen, openly racist war."[49]Ruvani Freeman, a Sri Lankan writer called Roy's remarks "ill-informed and hypocritical" and criticized her for whitewashing the atrocities of the LTTE[50]

Violation of forest law

In 2003, Arundhati and her husband[51], were informed by Panchmarhi district administration that a hilltop bungalow her husband owns near Panchmarhi stands on notified forest land and has to be pulled down, on grounds of violation of forest law. Also named in the case was the sister of Indian novelist Vikram Seth and two forest officials. Section 18 of the law bars buying and selling of notified forest land. Arundhati’s husband bought the 4,346 sq ft plot in 1994.[52].


Arundhati Roy was awarded the 1997 Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things. The award carried a prize of about US $30,000[53] and a citation that noted, 'The book keeps all the promises that it makes.'[54] Prior to this, she won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay in 1989, for the semi-autobiographical screenplay of In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones.[55]

In 2002, she won the Lannan Foundation's Cultural Freedom Award for her work "about civil societies that are adversely affected by the world’s most powerful governments and corporations," in order "to celebrate her life and her ongoing work in the struggle for freedom, justice and cultural diversity."[56]

Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in May 2004 for her work in social campaigns and her advocacy of non-violence.

In January 2006, she was awarded 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, but she declined to accept it "in protest against the Indian Government toeing the US line by 'violently and ruthlessly pursuing policies of brutalisation of industrial workers, increasing militarisation and economic neo-liberalisation.'"[57]



  • The God of Small Things. Flamingo, 1997. ISBN 0-00-655068-1.
  • The End of Imagination. Kottayam: D.C. Books, 1998. ISBN 8171308678.
  • The Cost of Living. Flamingo, 1999. ISBN 0375756140. Contains the essays "The Greater Common Good" and "The End of Imagination."
  • The Greater Common Good. Bombay: India Book Distributor, 1999. ISBN 8173101213.
  • The Algebra of Infinite Justice. Flamingo, 2002. ISBN 0-00-714949-2. Collection of essays: "The End of Imagination," "The Greater Common Good," "Power Politics", "The Ladies Have Feelings, So...," "The Algebra of Infinite Justice," "War is Peace," "Democracy," "War Talk", and "Come September."
  • Power Politics. Cambridge: South End Press, 2002. ISBN 0-89608-668-2.
  • War Talk. Cambridge: South End Press, 2003. ISBN 0-89608-724-7.
  • Foreword to Noam Chomsky, For Reasons of State. 2003. ISBN 1-56584-794-6.
  • An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire. Consortium, 2004. ISBN 0-89608-727-1.
  • Public Power in the Age of Empire Seven Stories Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58322-682-6.
  • The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy. Interviews by David Barsamian. Cambridge: South End Press, 2004. ISBN 0-89608-710-7.
  • Introduction to 13 December, a Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament. New Delhi, New York: Penguin, 2006. ISBN 014310182X.
  • The Shape of the Beast: Conversations with Arundhati Roy. New Delhi: Penguin, Viking, 2008. ISBN 9780670082070.
  • Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy. New Delhi: Penguin, Hamish Hamilton, 2009. ISBN 9780670083794.

Books and articles about Roy

  • Anūp, Si. (1997). Arundhatiyuṭ̣e atbhutalōkaṃ. Trivandrum: New Indian Books. 
  • Balvannanadhan, Aïda (2007). Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. New Delhi: Prestige Books. ISBN 8175511931. 
  • Bhatt, Indira; Indira Nityanandam (1999). Explorations: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. New Delhi: Creative Books. ISBN 8186318569. 
  • "The Politics of Design," in Ch'ien, Evelyn Nien-Ming (2005). Weird English. Harvard UP. pp. 154–99. ISBN 9780674018198. 
  • Dhawan, R.K. (1999). Arundhati Roy, the novelist extraordinary. New Delhi: Prestige Books. ISBN 8175510609. 
  • Dodiya, Jaydipsinh; Joya Chakravarty (1999). The Critical studies of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. New Delhi: Atlantic. ISBN 8171568505. 
  • Durix, Carole; Jean-Pierre Durix (2002). Reading Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Dijon: Editions universitaires de Dijon. ISBN 2905965800. 
  • Ghosh, Ranjan; Antonia Navarro-Tejero (2009). Globalizing dissent: Essays on Arundhati Roy. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415995597. 
  • Jōsaphmātyu, Ēt̲t̲umānūr (1997). Arundhati R̲ōyiyuṭe Da gōḍ ōph smōḷ tiṅgs: kathayuṃ kāryavuṃ: sāhitya paṭhanam. Kottayam: Toms Literary Editions. 
  • Mullaney, Julie (2002). Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things: A reader’s guide. New York: Continuum. ISBN 0826453279. 
  • Navarro-Tejero, Antonia (2005). Gender and caste in the Anglophone-Indian novels of Arundhati Roy and Githa Hariharan: feminist issues in cross-cultural perspectives. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen. ISBN 0773459952. 
  • Pathak, R.S. (2001). The fictional world of Arundhati Roy. New Delhi: Creative Books. ISBN 8186318844. 
  • Prasad, Murari; Bill Ashcroft (foreword) (2006). Arundhati Roy, critical perspectives. Delhi: Pencraft International. ISBN 8185753768. 
  • Roy, Amitabh (2005). The God of Small Things: A Novel of Social Commitment. Atlantic. pp. 37–38. ISBN 9788126904099.,M1. 
  • Sharma, A.P. (2000). The mind and the art of Arundhati Roy: a critical appraisal of her novel, The God of Small Things. New Delhi: Minerva. ISBN 817662120X. 
  • Shashi, R.S.; Bala Talwar (1998). Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things: Critique and commentary. New Delhi: Creative Books. ISBN 8186318542. 
  • Tickell, Alex (2007). Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415358422. 
  • Tōmas, Jōmi (1997). Arundhati R̲ōy, kr̥tiyuṃ kāl̲cappāṭum. Kozhikode: Kar̲ant̲ Buks. ISBN 812400515X. 

See also

External links

Works, speeches


  • We, a political documentary about Roy's words. Available online.
  • Arundhati Roy denounces Indian democracy by Atul Cowshish
  • Carreira, Shirley de S. G.A representação da mulher em Shame, de Salman Rushdie, e O deus das pequenas coisas, de Arundathi Roy. In: MONTEIRO, Conceição & LIMA, Tereza M. de O. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Caetés, 2005
  • "In the Valley of the Tigers"; Interview with Ascent magazine on the Narmada Valley
  • Ch'ien, Evelyn Nien-Ming, "The Politics of Design" (Weird English. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2004; 154-99). Essay on Roy's language. Available online.

Biographical material



  1. ^ a b "Arundhati Roy, 1959 -". The South Asian Literary Recordings Project. Library of Congress, New Delhi Office. 2002-11-15. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  2. ^ Rediff On The NeT: Mary Roy celebrates her daughter's victory.
  3. ^ "Arundhati Roy: A 'small hero'". BBC News Online. 2002-03-06. 
  4. ^ a b c Ramesh, Randeep (2007-02-17). "Live to tell". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  5. ^ a b Roy, Amitabh (2005). The God of Small Things: A Novel of Social Commitment. Atlantic. pp. 37–38. ISBN 9788126904099.,M1. 
  6. ^ "Notable Books of the Year 1997". New York Times. 1997-12-07. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  7. ^ "Best Sellers Plus". New York Times. 1998-01-25. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  8. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (1997-06-03). "Melodrama as Structure for Subtlety". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Truax, Alice (1997-05-25), "A Silver Thimble in Her Fist", New York Times, 
  10. ^ Eder, Richard (1997-06-01). "As the world turns: rev. of The God of Small Things". Los Angeles Times: p. 2. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  11. ^ Carey, Barbara (1997-06-07). "A lush, magical novel of India". Toronto Star: p. M.21. 
  12. ^ "Books: The best of 1997". TIME. 1997-12-29.,9171,987619,00.html. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  13. ^ "The scene is set for the Booker battle". BBC News. 1998-09-24. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  14. ^ Kutty, N Madhavan (1997-11-09). "Comrade of Small Jokes". Indian Express. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  15. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth (1997-07-29). "A Novelist Beginning with a Bang". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  16. ^ Randeep Ramesh (2007-03-10). "An activist returns to the novel". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  17. ^ "We Are One: a celebration of tribal peoples published this autumn". Survival International. 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  18. ^ Thottam, Jyoti (2008-09-04). "Valley of Tears". Time magazine.,9171,1838586,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  19. ^ Ghosh, Avijit (2008-08-19). "Kashmir needs freedom from India: Arundhati Roy". Times of India. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  20. ^ "Cong attacks Roy on Kashmir remark". Economic Times (Times of India). 20 Aug 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  21. ^ Sanghvi, Vir (2008-08-16). "Think the Unthinkable". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  22. ^ Suraiya, Jug (2008-08-20). "India minus K-word". The Times of India. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  23. ^ Aiyar, Swaminathan S Anklesaria (2008-08-17). "Independence Day for Kashmir". The Times of India. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  24. ^ Manchanda, Rita (2008-09-04). "Media-India: Columnists Support Kashmir's Secession". Inter Press Service. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  25. ^ Roy, Arundhati (May 22 - June 04, 1999), "The Greater Common Good", Frontline (magazine) 16 (11), 
  26. ^ "Drowned Out". Internet Movie Database. 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  27. ^ "Playwright Tendulkar in BJP gunsight". The Telegraph (Kolkata). 2003-12-13. Retrieved 2009-04-06.  The Telegraph - Calcutta: Nation].
  28. ^ "Arundhati’s contempt: Supreme Court writes her a prison sentence". Indian Express. 2002-03-07. V. Venkatesan and Sukumar Muralidharan (August 18 - 31, 2001). "Of contempt and legitimate dissent". Frontline. 
  29. ^ In re: Arundhati Roy.... Contemner, JUDIS (Supreme Court of India bench, Justices G.B. Pattanaik & R.P. Sethi 2002-03-06).
  30. ^ Roy, Arundhati (2002-03-07). "Statement by Arundhati Roy". Friends of River Narmada. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  31. ^ Ramachandra Guha, The Arun Shourie of the left, The Hindu, 2000-11-26.
  32. ^ Ramachandra Guha, Perils of extremism, The Hindu, 2000-12-17.
  33. ^ Ram, N. (6-19 January 2001). "Scimitars in the Sun: N. Ram interviews Arundhati Roy on a writer's place in politics.". Frontline, The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  34. ^ Omvedt, Gail. "An Open Letter to Arundhati Roy". Friends of River Narmada. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  35. ^ Roy, Arundhati (2001-10-23). "'Brutality smeared in peanut butter': Why America must stop the war now". The Guardian.,4273,4283081,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  36. ^ Roy, Arundhati (2003-05-13). "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)". Text of speech at the Riverside Church. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  37. ^ Roy, Arundhati. "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy, Buy One Get One Free – An Hour With Arundhati Roy". Text of speech at the Riverside Church. Democracy Now!. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  38. ^ Roy, Arundhati (2006-02-28). "George Bush go home" (in en). The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  39. ^ "War crimes and Lebanon". 2006-08-03.,,1835915,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  40. ^ "Political Notebook: Queer activists reel over Israel, Frameline ties". 2007-05-17. 
  41. ^ "San Francisco Queers Say No Pride in Apartheid". 2007-05-29. 
  42. ^ Arundhati Roy, 'And His Life Should Become Extinct', Outlook, 2006-10-30.
  43. ^ BJP flays Arundhati for 'defending' Afzal, The Hindu, 2006-10-28.
  44. ^ Roy, Arundhati (March 15, 2003). ""You have blood on your hands"; Arundhati Roy to Kerala Chief Minister Antony". Frontline, Vol.20, Issue 6 (The Hindu). Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  45. ^ Roy, Arundhati (2008-12-13). "The monster in the mirror". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  46. ^ "All terrorism roads lead to Pakistan, says Rushdie". The Times of India. 18 December 2008. 
  47. ^ "Rushdie Slams Arundhati Roy". Times of India. 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  48. ^ Singh, Tavleen (2008-12-21). "The Real Enemies". Indian Express. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  49. ^ Roy, Arundhati (2009-04-01). "This is not a war on terror. It is a racist war on all Tamils". The Guardian online edition (The Guardian). 
  50. ^ Lankan writer slams Arundhati Roy Indian Express - April 4, 2009
  51. ^ Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth in encroachment case Times of India - June 26, 2006
  52. ^ KIDWAI, RASHEED (2003-05-07). "Bungalow blow to Arundhati - Allotment on notified forest land cancelled in Panchmarhi" (in en). The Telegraph (Calcutta). Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  53. ^ "Arundhati Roy interviewed by David Barsamian". The South Asian. September 2001. 
  54. ^ "Previous winners - 1997". Booker Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  55. ^ In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones - Awards Internet Movie Database.
  56. ^ "2002 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize awarded to Arundhati Roy". Lannan Foundation. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  57. ^ Sahitya Akademi Award: Arundhati Roy Rejects Honor.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Arundhati Roy (b. November 24, 1961) Indian Author and Social Activist




  • If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is Man's challenge to God. It's worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that You have created. If you're not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is 4 600 000 000 years old. It could end in an afternoon. ** The End of Imagination August, 1998 [1]
  • Power is fortified not just by what it destroys, but also by what it creates. Not just by what it takes, but also by what it gives. And powerlessness reaffirmed not just by the helplessness of those who have lost, but also by the gratitude of those who have (or think they have) gained. ** The Greater Common Good May, 1999 [2]
  • Big Dams are to a nation's 'development' what nuclear bombs are to its military aresenal. They're both weapons of mass destruction. They're both weapons governments use to control their own people. Both twentieth-century emblems that mark a point in time when human intelligence has outstripped its own instinct for survival. They're both malignant indications of a cibilization turning upon itself. They represent the severing of the link, not just the link -- the understanding-- between human beings and the planet they live on. They scramble the intelligence that connects eggs to hens, milk to cows, food to forests, water to rivers, air to life, and the earth to human existence. ** The Greater Common Good May, 1999 [3]
  • The story of the Narmada valley is nothing less than the story of Modern India. Like the tiger in the Belgrade zoo during the NATO bombing, we've begun to eat our own limbs. **Preface to The Cost of Living July 1999
  • The trouble is that once America goes off to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place.
    • The Algebra of Infinite Justice September 29, (2001) [4]

Novel: The God of Small Things

  • In those early amorphous years of life, when memory had only just begun, when life was full of Beginnings and no Ends, and everything was Forever ..."
  • ... the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don't deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don't surprise you with the unforeseen.. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover's skin. You know how they end yet you listen as though you don't. In the way that you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won't. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn't. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic. ...
  • Her own grief grieved her. His devastated her. (On Sophie Mol's death, describing Mamachi's grief, and Chacko's)


  • Where there is oppression, it will always be challenged by those of us who will challenge it with greater intensity, you know? So that's why I don't believe that there can ever be peace without justice, you know? The two go together. And there cannot be peace in the world with full-spectrum dominance or, you know, nuclear warfare or any of those things. They won't help, because always there will be people who demand dignity, who demand justice, who demand their rights.
    • From an interview with Andrew Denton on Enough Rope screened 18th October 2004 on ABC Australia [5]


  • "Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead."
  • "What does the term "anti-American" mean? Does it mean you are anti-jazz? Or that you're opposed to freedom of speech? That you don't delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias? Does it mean that you don't admire the hundreds of thousands of American citizens who marched against nuclear weapons, or the thousands of war resisters who forced their government to withdraw from Vietnam? Does it mean that you hate all Americans?"
  • There is only one dream worth live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead.
  • Literature is the opposite of a nuclear bomb.
  • ... To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget. ...
  • "What does peace mean in a world in which the combined wealth of the world's 587 billionaires exceeds the combined gross domestic product of the world's 135 poorest countries? Or when rich countries that pay farm subsidies of a billion dollars a day, try and force poor countries to drop their subsidies? What does peace mean to people in occupied Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Tibet and Chechnya? Or to the aboriginal people of Australia? Or the Ogoni of Nigeria? Or the Kurds in Turkey? Or the Dalits and Adivasis of India?What does peace mean to non-muslims in Islamic countries, or to women in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan? What does it mean to the millions who are being uprooted from their lands by dams and development projects? What does peace mean to the poor who are being actively robbed of their resources and for whom everyday life is a grim battle for water, shelter, survival and, above all, some semblance of dignity? For them, peace is war."
    • A selection from a speech entitled Peace... given on November 7, 2004 while accepting the Sydney Peace Prize
  • "Another world is not only possible, she's on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe."
    • From a speech entitled Confronting Empire given at the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre, 28 January 2003
  • The tradition of "turkey pardoning" in the US is a wonderful allegory for new racism. Every year, the National Turkey Federation presents the US president with a turkey for Thanksgiving. Every year, in a show of ceremonial magnanimity, the president spares that particular bird (and eats another one). After receiving the presidential pardon, the Chosen One is sent to Frying Pan Park in Virginia to live out its natural life. The rest of the 50 million turkeys raised for Thanksgiving are slaughtered and eaten on Thanksgiving Day. ConAgra Foods, the company that has won the Presidential Turkey contract, says it trains the lucky birds to be sociable, to interact with dignitaries, school children and the press.

    That's how new racism in the corporate era works. A few carefully bred turkeys - the local elites of various countries, a community of wealthy immigrants, investment bankers, the occasional Colin Powell, or Condoleezza Rice, some singers, some writers (like myself) - are given absolution and a pass to Frying Pan Park.
    The remaining millions lose their jobs, are evicted from their homes, have their water and electricity connections cut, and die of AIDS. Basically, they're for the pot. But the fortunate fowls in Frying Pan Park are doing fine. Some of them even work for the IMF and the World Trade Organisation - so who can accuse those organisations of being anti-turkey? Some serve as board members on the Turkey Choosing Committee - so who can say that turkeys are against Thanksgiving? They participate in it! Who can say the poor are anti-corporate globalisation? There's a stampede to get into Frying Pan Park. So what if most perish on the way?
  • The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it, and are now in the process of selling it.
    • From a speech accepting the Sydney Peace Prize, November 07, 2004 [6]
  • It's not a real choice. It's an apparent choice. Like choosing a brand of detergent. Whether you buy Ivory Snow or Tide, they're both owned by Proctor & Gamble This doesn't mean that one takes a position that is without nuance, that [...] the Democrats and Republicans are the same. Of course, they're not. Neither are Tide and Ivory Snow. Tide has oxy-boosting and Ivory Snow is a gentle cleanser."
    • On the American election, 2004 from her speech in San Francisco, California on August 16th, 2004 [7]


  • People rarely win wars; governments rarely lose them.

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