Hey, Sweet Arundhati half an (As)Syrian?

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Posted by Andreas from dtm2-t7-1.mcbone.net ( on Wednesday, June 04, 2003 at 12:13PM :

Hey, Sweet Arundhati half an (As)Syrian?

Check out below:

"Born Suzanna Arundhati Roy in Kerala, India, to a Syrian Christian mother and a Hindu father"

and following..



Born:Suzanna Arundhati Roy, November 24, 1961, in the province of Kerala, India.

Educated: Attended Delhi School of Architecture and received travel scholarship to Italy for eight months to study the restoration of monuments, but left school without receiving a degree.

Arundhati Roy is the author whose first novel, The God of Small Things (1997), won the Booker Prize, Britain's highest literary honor, after reaching the bestseller lists in both the UK and America. That novel established her as one of the most prominent Indian writers of our era. The God of Small Things employed a language infused with sensual description, utilizing compact sentences and dense metaphor. Roy's style has been compared to Salman Rushdie's in its use of innovative wordplay, magical elements, and description of a deeply Indian environment. Like him and many other contemporary Indian writers, Roy focuses on the lingering problems of the British colonial system. Roy's career as a writer has been replete with controversy, as result of writing about sensitive issues such as gender, sexuality and the Indian caste system. Her writings and social activism have prompted angry denunciations, lawsuits, even public burnings.

Born Suzanna Arundhati Roy in Kerala, India, to a Syrian Christian mother and a Hindu father, she grew up in a cultural environment closely related to the one described in her first novel: she says that "My mother says that some of the incidents in the book are based on things that happened when I was two years old." Her parents separated early in her life, and she was taught by her mother, who ran an informal school. Roy left home at 16 and subsequently lived in a squatters camp in Delhi, but eventually enrolled in architecture school. After leaving without a degree, she worked as a film actor, screenwriter and occasional aerobics instructor. Roy also wrote occasional reviews on the Indian film industry for local newspapers. One, a strident criticism of the acclaimed film Bandit Queen, ended in a court case.

Roy retreated from the public eye and, while surviving on savings from her work in film, spent roughly five years creating The God of Small Things. Published in 1997, the novel received critical applause around the world and has been translated into over 20 languages. Writing for the New Yorker, John Updike called it "A Tiger Woodsian debut." God of Small Things remained a top seller in America for two full months. The book tells the story of fraternal twins Estha and Rahel who live in a rural Indian town in the 1960's. Their family owns a regionally famous pickle company and have English relatives. Gradually, the plot condenses into an exploration of adultery, the Indian caste system and the fragmentation of the family in the face of tragedy. Several critics compared the autobiographical and lyric novel to William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom. The God of Small Things also had its angry detractors: Several groups in India accused it of bias against Communism, lurid sexuality, and a depiction of indecent relations between an Untouchable and a higher caste member. Additionally, some English critics sharply criticized the novel as being merely derivative of the style of another Indian literary luminary, Salman Rushdie. Former Booker Prize judge Carmen Cahill went so far as to call it "an excretable book."

Roy's second book, The Cost of Living (1999), is a collection of two essays, one a critical look at the nuclear bomb tests of India and Pakistan in 1998 and the other on the construction of a dam in the Narmada valley in central India. The title is taken from the name of the last chapter of her novel. Both pieces were originally published in Indian news magazines in May of 1998 and 1999. In both essays, Roy castigates the Indian government for blithely dismissing the effects its massive-scale projects have on the citizen. Roy has donated royalties from the book to organizations involved in this struggle. Although The Cost of Living received less attention in the West, it lit a firestorm of controversy in India, with some of those who seek to build the dam in India holding public burnings of her books.

Although she has been asked repeatedly about her next novel, Roy has claimed to be uninterested in further literary success. Yet, far from becoming the Harper Lee of Indian literature, she plans to focus on social activism for some time. "I don't believe in these artificial divisions," she says. "I don't believe that just because I've written a book I have to write another ten books, or just because I've written a screenplay I have to carry on doing that...I think that sometimes we are just sort of put into these categories, and we don't think about it, we just keep running on those tracks." She lived up to her promise. Her third and most recent book, Power Politics, continues to criticize free-for-all international development policy, particularly in her native India.

Arundhati Roy is now a leading activist and critic of the rise of global capitalism and unchecked military power. She lives in New Delhi, India, with her husband, Krishen, a filmmaker, his two children from an earlier marriage, and their two dachshunds.

How To Read Arundhati Roy:

Book To Start With: The God of Small Things

Roy's first novel, The God of Small Things, is best experienced when the reader is exposed to the outdoors: this might mean actually reading the book outside, or just reading in a naturally lighted room. It constantly demands that the reader experience deep sensual and natural impressions from it: reading in artificial enclosures such as a bus, a car, or an airport is ill-advised, as it will separate you from the atmosphere of the novel. The novel has seen frequent comparison with Faulkner, due to an intensely naturalistic style infused with metaphor and an unorthodox structure, but there are not the deep, sometimes perplexing sentence constructions of his work. Roy's second and third books are direct, personal, and intense criticisms of Indian governmental policy. They are not scholarly works: rather, they simply display the author's anger at, among other things, the bomb tests India and Pakistan conducted in 1998 and the proposal to build a dam in central India. Their political nature might inspire harsh reactions from an offended reader, but her writing is deeply impassioned and stimulating.

-- Andreas
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