Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Arundhati Roy: Bio, Quotes

                                            Arundhati Roy


Born:   November 24, 1961
Languages: English: The God of Small Things; Hindi, Urdu: various works.
Nationality: India
Genre: Novel  
First Published:  1997, The God of Small Things
Awards:  Man Booker Prize, 1997
Vocation:  Activist


Book Title:  The God of Small Things

Chapter 11: The God of Small Things  (pages 205-216)

   “That afternoon, Ammu traveled upwards through a dream in which a cheerful man with one arm held her close by the light of an oil lamp…
   “Who was he, the one-armed man? Who could he have been? The God of Loss? The God of Small Things? The God of Goosebumps and Sudden Smiles?” (pages 205-7)

   “He stepped onto the path that led through the swamp to the History House.
   “He left no ripples in the water.
    “No footprints on the shore.
   “He held his mundu spread above his head to dry. The wind lifted it like a sail. He was suddenly happy. Things will get worse, he thought.  Then better. He was walking swiftly now, towards the Heart of Darkness. As lonely as a wolf.
   “The God of Loss.
   “The God of Small Things.
    “Naked but for his nail varnish.”
     (p. 274)

First Lines

  “May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun.”

                                     The God of Small Things

“When India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in 1998, even those of us who condemned them balked at the hypocrisy of Western powers. Implicit in their denunciation of the tests was the notion that Blacks cannot be trusted with the Bomb. Now we are presented with the spectacle of our governments competing to confirm that belief.
   “As diplomats’ families and tourists disappear from the subcontinent, Western journalists arrive in Delhi in droves. Many call me. ‘Why haven’t you left the city?’ they ask. ‘Isn’t nuclear war a real possibility? Isn’t Delhi a prime target?’”

                                                                                    War Talk

Theme: The Love Laws

   "In a purely practical sense it would probably be correct to say that it all began when Sophie Mol came to Ayemenem. Perhaps it’s true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can effect the outcomes of whole lifetimes. And when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burnt house–the charred clock, the singed photographs, the scorched furniture–must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for.
   "Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstituted."

* * *
   "Equally, it could be argued that it actually began thousands of years ago. Long before the Marxists came. Before the British took Malabar, before the Dutch Ascendancy, before Vasco da Gama arrived, before the Zamorin’s conquest of Calicut. Before three purple-robed Syrian bishops murdered by the Portuguese were found floating in the sea, with coiled sea serpents riding on their chests and oysters knotted in their tangled beards. It could be argued that it began long before Christianity arrived in a boat and seeped into Kerala like tea from a teabag.
   "That it really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how.
   "And how much.(p. 32)


A Small Mystery

  “The back verandah of the History House (where a posse of Touchable policemen converged, where an inflatable goose was burst) had been enclosed and converted into the airy hotel kitchen. Nothing worse than kebabs and caramel custard happened there now. The Terror was past. Overcome by the smell of food. Silenced by the humming of cooks. The cheerful chop-chop-chopping of ginger and garlic. The disemboweling of lesser mammals–pigs, goats. The dicing of meat. The scaling of fish.
   “Something lay buried in the ground. Under grass. Under twenty-three years of June rain.
   “A small forgotten thing.
   “Nothing that the world would miss.
   “A child’s plastic wristwatch with the time painted on it.
   “Ten to two, it said.”

                                                                          The God of Small Things (p. 121)

Word in Context: Abrogate

“Odd, considering that Margaret Kochamma didn’t know that it was Estha––Stirring Wizard with a puff––who had rowed jam and thought Two Thoughts, Estha who had broken rules and rowed Sophie Mol and Rahel across the river in the afternoons in a little boat, Estha who had abrogated a sickled smell by waving a Marxist flag at it.” (The God of Small Things, p. 250)   Abrogate: verb: repeal (a law): cancel, get rid of.

Writing the Rhythms of Speech

   “They did what they had to do, the two old ladies. Mammachi provided the passion.
Baby Kochamma the Plan. Kochu Maria was their midget lieutenant. They locked
Ammu up (tricked her into her bedroom) before they sent for Velutha. They knew
that they had to get him to leave Ayemenem before Chacko returned. They could
neither trust nor predict what Chacko’s attitude would be.
   “It wasn’t entirely their fault, though, that the whole thing spun out of control like
a deranged top. That it lashed out at those that crossed its path. That by the time Chacko
and Margaret Kochamma returned from Cochin, it was too late.” (p. 244)  

Narrative Structure:  Non-sequential Storytelling

FRAME STORY: Rahel returns to Estha (1992): Timespan: 24 hours

·      FRAME: Present (1992) to Past: Birth of Twins––The Older Generation Kochammas: their Youth–The Events of 1967
·      Cameos: Baby Kochamma, Pappachi, Chacko
·      Framed story: The Skyblue Plymouth Episode: The March – (p. 65)
·      Framed story [Frame = The March, 1967]: Velutha and Vellya Paapen
·      MAIN FRAMED STORY: Sophie Mol’s visit: Timespan: 2 weeks
·      FRAMED STORY/ the Past: Sophie’s visit: 1969
·      The Sound of Music Episode ­– 1969 – (p. 90) 
·      Ambassadors for India: Rahel and Estha (pages 133-4, 138-40)
·      CORE STORY: Ammu and Velutha, 1969 (p. 166 and onward)
·      Cameo: When Margaret Met Chacko – (p. 232)
·      Sophie is found; the Twins are missing –(p. 239)

FRAME STORY: Rahel returns to Estha (1992): Timespan: 24 hours

·      CORE STORY: Ammu and Velutha: Penultimate Episode (pages 312-321)

Postcolonial Characters

Baby Kochamma

 “When she was eighteen, Baby Kochamma fell in love with a handsome young Irish monk, Father Mulligan…Baby Kochamma defied her father’s wishes and became a Roman Catholic. With special dispensation from the Vatican, she took her vows….
   “Very quickly she realized the futility of this endeavor. She found that the senior sisters monopolized the priests and bishops with biblical doubts more sophisticated than hers would ever be, and that it might be years before she got anywhere near Father Mulligan.”
(pages 23-25)


   “Chacko told the twins that, though he hated to admit it, they were all Anglophiles.
They were a family of Anglophiles. Pointed in the wrong direction, trapped outside
their own history and unable to retrace their steps because their footprints had been
swept away. He explained to them that history was like an old house at night. With
all the lamps lit. And ancestors whispering inside.” (p. 51)

Margaret Kochamma

   “Being with Chacko made Margaret Kochamma feel as though her soul had escaped from the narrow confines of her island country into the vast, extravagant spaces of his…
   “In the year she knew him, before they were married, she discovered a little magic in herself, and for a while felt like a blithe genie released from her lamp. She was perhaps too young to realize that what she thought was her love for Chacko was actually a tentative, timorous, acceptance of herself.” (p. 233)


   “They laughed at ant-bites on each other’s bottoms…At clumsy caterpillars sliding off the ends of leaves…At the minute spider who lived in a crack in the wall of the back verandah of the History House and camouflaged himself by covering his body with bits of rubbish––a sliver of wasp wing…
   “Without admitting it to each other or themselves, they linked their fates, their futures (their Love, their Madness, their Hope, their Infinite Joy), to his. They checked on him every night (with growing panic as time went by) to see if he had survived the day.
   “They fretted over his fragility. His smallness. The adequacy of his camouflage. His seemingly self-destructive pride. They grew to love his eclectic taste. His shambling dignity.
   “They chose him because they knew that they had to put their faith in fragility. Stick to Smallness. Each time they parted, they extracted only one small promise from each other:


Biography - Roy, Arundhati (1961-): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online [HTML] [Gale Reference Team: Author].

Literary Criticism

Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things: A Critical Appraisal, by Amar Nath Prasad, Sarup & Son, 2005, 286 pages.

Postcolonial Literature

The Postcolonial Novel, by Richard j. Lane, Polity, 2006, 160 pages [Author discusses the novels of J.M. Coetzee, Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, among others.]

Legacy in Literature

·      English Literature
·      World Literature
·      South Asian Literature
·      Feminist Literature
·      Women’s Literature
·      Postcolonial Literature

Political Legacy:  Engagement and Activism

Political Writing
  • The Cost of Living. Flamingo, 1999, Essays: "The Greater Common Good" and "The End of Imagination."
  • The Greater Common Good. Bombay: India Book Distributor, 1999
  • The Algebra of Infinite Justice, Flamingo, 2002, 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.
  • War Talk. Cambridge: South End Press, 2003.
  • An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire. Consortium, 2004.  
  • The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy. Interviews by David Barsamian. Cambridge: South End Press, 2004.
  • Introduction to 13 December, a Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament. New Delhi, New York: Penguin, 2006.
  • The Shape of the Beast: Conversations with Arundhati Roy. New Delhi: Penguin, Viking, 2008.
  • Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy. New Delhi: Penguin, Hamish Hamilton, 2009.

Political Advocacy

·       The Environment:  Campaigned against the Narmada Dam Project
·       Peace:  Opposed the Post-9/11 War in Afghanistan
·       Human Rights:  Criticized persecution of the Tamils in Sri Lanka
·       Anti-Imperialism:  Opposes the Claims of Empire

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