Arundhati Roy: The Renowned Writer of ‘The God of Small Things’

Arundhati Roy was born on 24th November, 1961. She is an Indian novelist, and a social activist. She is popularly known for her first novel- The God for Small Things (1997) and is awarded by Booker Prize. She is also known for her involvement in human rights and environmental cause


Early Life Background

She was born in Shillong, Meghalaya. She is married to Mary Roy (social activist) and Ranjit Roy (Tea Planter). Her childhood was spent in Aymanam, Kerala. She did her schooling from Corpus Christi, Kottayam, later followed by Lawrence School, Tamil Nadu. In Delhi, at the “School of Planning and Architecture”, she studied architecture; here, she met her 1st husband Gerard da Cunha (architect).

In 1984, she met her 2nd husband, filmmaker- Pradip Krishen, and played the role of a village girl in the film Massey Sahib, which was an award winning film. Until she received fame and a secure future from her first novel, she did various jobs, which includes taking aerobic classes in New Delhi.

She is the cousin sister of renowned media person Prannoy Roy, who is the head of the leading Indian media group, NDTV.

Initial Career

At the outset, Roy used to work for television and films. The screenplays for “In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones” (1989), was written by Arundhati. It was a film, which was based on her own experience of being an architecture student. She wrote the screenplay for the film “Electric Moon”, which was directed by her second husband. In 1994, she criticised the film “Bandit Queen”, directed by Shekhar Kapur. She reviewed it by entitling it as- “The Great Indian Rape Trick”. She charged at Shekhar Kapur, for exploiting Phoolan Devi (film was based on her), and misrepresenting her character, and her life.

The God of Small Things

In the year 1992, she began writing her very first novel, ‘The God of Small Things’. The book is a semi-autobiography. It captured her most of the childhood incidents in Aymanam.


The publication of this novel gave her an instant worldwide fame. It was listed as the New York Times, the most Notable Book of the year. The book received the Booker Prize in 1997, for fiction. By the end of the year- 1997, it became the topmost famous book, for that year.

The book in India was criticised by E.K. Nayanar because he thought that the book had uncontrolled depiction of sexuality.

Major newspapers like, The New York Times, reviewed it by complementing the novel as “a dazzling first novel”, “extraordinary work”, “imaginatively supple”, and a lot more.

Her first novel was seen as a huge hit. It gained popularity, and she became one of the best known female Indian novelists writing in English, and in a short span of time she was a millionaire.


Life after the Fame…

After the success of the first novel, she continued to write the screenplays for movies, and for television series such as “The Banyan Tree”. She wrote the script for a documentary “DAM/AGE” (2002). Now, she has switched her interest, to write on political issues.

In 2007, she announced that she would begin with her second novel soon.

She has actively campaigned with activist Medha Patkar, against the Narmada Dam Project. She also has donated her prize money and royalties (Booker Prize), for the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

She is the head of the anti globalization movement and is a fervent reviewer of neo imperialism.

She wrote, “The End of Imagination“, as a strong response to the testing of nuclear weapon in Pokhran, Rajasthan. In the book “The Cost of Living “, she wrote against massive implantation of hydroelectric dam projects in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Now, she has completely devoted herself to politics and non-fiction; she is publishing essays and working for social causes.

She participated in the World Tribunal on Iraq, in 2005. In January, 2006, she received the Sahitya Akademi award, for the compilation of essays on present-day issues. Though she denied for, ‘The Algebra of Infinite Justice’.

She received the Norman Mailer Prize for Illustrious Writing, in 2011. Roy won the National Film Award in 1989, for writing the screenplay for “In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones”.

Few lines from ‘The God of Small Things’, quoted by Arundhati Roy:

“…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 although 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.”