- Indian writer and anti-war activist
- Passionate hater of the United States
Born on November 24, 1961 in Aymanam, a village in Western India, Suzanna Arundhati Roy is a writer and anti-war activist.
Roy’s mother, Mary, was a Christian woman from Kerala, and her father a Bengali Hindu tea planter. "I don't want to discuss my father," Roy says today. "I don't know him at all. I've only seen him a couple of times, that's it." At age sixteen, Roy, who was raised by her mother, left home and lived in a squatter's colony in Delhi, where she earned a meager living by selling empty beer bottles. Six years passed before she saw her mother again.
Eventually, Roy enrolled in the Delhi School of Architecture, where in 1984 she met fellow student Gerard Da Cunha, who she wed and later divorced after four years of marriage.
On April 4, 1997, Roy launched her debut novel, The God of Small Things, a semi-autobiographical story that centers around a pair of fraternal twins and the impact that the accidental drowning of a visiting English cousin had on their lives. The rights to Roy's book were sold in 21 countries, and in October of that year she became the first Indian woman to win the coveted Booker Prize. By that time, her novel had sold nearly 400,000 copies globally.
Roy's other books -- all non-fiction -- include: The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy (2004); Public Power in the Age of Empire (2004); An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire (2004); War Talk (2003); Power Politics (2002); The Algebra of Infinite Justice (2002); and The Cost of Living (1999).
Roy has developed a reputation in recent years as a passionate hater of the United States. In a September 29, 2001 article, she attributed the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the world's legitimate rage against America's allegedly unjust foreign policies. Among her assertions were the following:
- "For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is vital for the U.S. government to persuade its public that their commitment to freedom and democracy and the American Way of Life is under attack. In the current atmosphere of grief, outrage and anger, it's an easy notion to peddle.”
- "Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the [9/11] attacks has its taproot … in the U.S. government's record of commitment and support to … military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside America)? … [W]hat goes around eventually comes around."
- "The U.S. government … will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry."
- "The September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card from a world gone horribly wrong. The message may have been written by Bin Laden (who knows?) and delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been signed by the ghosts of the [millions of] victims of America's old wars …"
- "Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. ... Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. … The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other."
A month later, Roy penned an article for the Guardian Unlimited in which she wrote:
- "The bombing of Afghanistan is not revenge for New York and Washington. It is yet another [American] act of terror against the people of the world."
- "…What freedoms does [the U.S.] uphold? … Outside its borders, the freedom to dominate, humiliate and subjugate usually in the service of America's real religion, the 'free market.'"
In her January 31, 2003 article, "Confronting Empire," Roy claimed: "Killing people to save them from dictatorship or ideological corruption is ... an old U.S. government sport."
In May 2004, Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, she denounced American "imperialism," globalization, and U.S. foreign policy generally. "In 1991," she said, "U.S. President George Bush, Sr. mounted Operation Desert Storm. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed in the war. … Half a million Iraqi children [later] died because of the regime of economic sanctions in the run up to Operation Shock and Awe. … Technically that bloodbath is called precision bombing. In ordinary language, it's called butchering."
At the 2004 World Social Forum, Roy characterized the U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime as a duel between serial killers. "To applaud the U.S. army's capture of Saddam Hussein and therefore, in retrospect, justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq is like deifying Jack the Ripper for disemboweling the Boston Strangler," she said.
In August 2006, Roy signed a letter crafted by Professor Steve Trevillion, calling Israel's attacks on the Lebanon-based organization Hezbollah a "war crime," and accusing Israel of "state terror."