Indian novelist and political activist, Arundhati Roy, best known for her novel “The God of Small Things” and for her involvement in human right issues, also had several odd jobs before starting her career as a writer. At one point, she was an actress, film-maker and even an aerobics instructor.
After having studied architecture, she quickly realised it was not the right path for her. “I graduated but I didn’t actually build anything, because I wasn’t really cut out to be making beautiful homes for wealthy people or whatever”.
She released her first book in 1997, “The God of Small Things”. It was an immediate success and brought Arundhati international fame. It won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1998 and counts today as the biggest-selling book by a nonexpatriate Indian author. 20 years later, she published her second novel, “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”. Both novels have this particular poetic, powerful and beautiful style. The first is filled with childhood memories and the latter is dedicated to “the Unconsoled”, in her words, people who do not fit into the categories that the ruling establishment and society more generally puts people in.
Between those two books, Arundhati did not rest. She is relentlessly fighting for justice in causes and movement around the globe and writing countless political essays. Speaking at rallies, marches and gatherings, she is a fervent advocate for the most vulnerable and dehumanized people. She has published many nonfiction books and collections of her speeches, writing about government dams, the 2002 Gujarat massacre and other political issues such as her support for Kashmiri separatism, her opposition to India´s nuclear weaponry, and so on and so on. The list is endless and her fight tireless. She will be releasing a collection of her essays next year under the title “My Seditious Heart” with more than 1000 pages.
Known internationally, she knows that the elite and nationalists in India do not often like her positions, however, she is used to criticism and says it keeps her sharp. Her work, campaigns and fights have won her the Lannan Foundation´s Cultural Freedom Award in 2002, special recognition as a Woman of Peace at the Global Human Rights Awards in 2003, and the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004, among other literary prizes.
Despite the many existing challenges globally and her never-ending involvement, she does not lose hope and says that even with people having to fight every day for survival, not all is grim. “One of my books of essays is dedicated to ‘those who have learned to divorce hope from reason’. So being unreasonable is the only way that we can have hope”.
By Teresa Iglesias, WAVE Intern
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Lewis, Tim. “Arundhati Roy: ‘The Point of the Writer Is to Be Unpopular’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 17 June 2018, www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/17/arundhati-roy-interview-you-ask-the-questions-the-point-of-the-writer-is-to-be-unpopular.
Scahill, Jeremy. “Arundhati Roy: ‘I Need to Know the Place Where I Stand and Why I Stand There.’” The Intercept, 17 Apr. 2018, theintercept.com/2018/04/17/arundhati-roy-intercepted-jeremy-scahill/.
Tikkanen, Amy. “Arundhati Roy.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/biography/Arundhati-Roy.