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Arundhati Roy  [ India ]

Biography

Roy, portrait
Copyright Ali Ghandtschi

Guest 2009, 2017.

Bibliography

Der Gott der kleinen Dinge

Blessing

München, 1997

[Ü: Anne Grube]

Die Politik der Macht

btb

München, 2002

[Ü: Helmut Dierlamm u.~a.]

Aus der Werkstatt der Demokratie

S. Fischer

Frankfurt a.~M., 2010

[Ü: Anette Grube]

Capitalism: A Ghost Story

Haymarket Books

Chicago, 2014

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Knopf

New York, 2017

Arundhati Roy was born in Shillong in northern India in 1959 and grew up in Kerala in southern India. When she was sixteen, she moved to Delhi to study architecture and work in cinema, first as an actress and then as a screenwriter.

She achieved international recognition with her first novel, »The God of Small Things« (1997), which has been translated into forty languages, topped best-seller lists worldwide and won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In vivid, poetic language characterized by striking rhythm, her semi-autobiographical debut examines the fate of an Indian family in Ayemenem, the author’s hometown. The story centers on the twins Rahel and Estha, whose mother violates the rigid caste system by loving an »untouchable«. Through flashbacks and shifts in time, several temporal layers are established which form the basis of the work’s skilful construction.

In subsequent years, Roy has used her reputation to further her political activism: she has strongly criticized India’s nuclear weapons program, and campaigned against the Narmada River dam project and the foreseeable devastating humanitarian and ecological consequences it would entail. She has also protested against the privatization of essential resources, and taken subjects such as Hindu nationalism. On an international level, Roy is a strong critic of corporate globalization, western military and economic policies and the manipulation of corporate media. She sharply criticized both the War in Iraq and the Bush administration’s »War on Terrorism«. After 9/11, she wrote an article for the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« stating that America’s felonious foreign policy played an undeniable role in the terrorist attacks. Roy’s political commitment is also strongly expressed in her non-fiction works such as »The Algebra of Infinite Justice« (2002), »An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire« (2004), a collection of interviews titled »The Shape of the Beast« (2008), »Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes On Democracy« (2009), a volume of essays written between 2004 and 2008, and »Capitalism: A Ghost Story« (2014), which explores the darker side of Indian democracy and how globalized capitalism subjects billions of people to an exploitative and racist system. »The Ministry of Utmost Happiness«, which she had worked on for nearly a decade, is published in 2017, her second novel since her debut two decades earlier. Set on the Indian subcontinent, it tells of people who have been broken by the world we live in and whose wounds can only be healed by love.

For her social and political commitment Roy was awarded the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize. She lives in New Delhi.

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