Sunday, January 6, 2013

The magnificent chaos and women's lives

The magnificent chaos and women’s lives is to me the perfect title for a page about a contemporary female writer from India. The most famous author is without doubt Arundhati Roy. With her debut novel ‘God of small things’ she won the Booker prize in 1997. At the last count the book had been translated into 40 languages. The book is set in Kerala, India. She uses her own experiences as to what it is like to grow up in Kerala. Interestingly it is the place in the world where all the world religions/ideologies coincide: Christianity (her mother was Christian), Hinduism, Marxism and Islam.  One could call the book a tale of the decline and fall of an Indian family. Through a mixture of past and present, we learn about the night of Sophie Mol’s death. The book begins in 1969 when the twins are 7. They never have really grown up and still live in a world of their own making. The characters are exactly that: a character: the elegant grandmother, scheming Baby Kochamma, the house servant, the charming uncle, an Oxford educated Marxist taking over the family pickling business and of course ruining it. The untouchable carpenter is the only one who can influence life and not just accept it as it comes… When I read the book in 1997 I loved it for its sheer luxury of language: language like a Cirque du Soleil exuberant balancing acts, sharp and funny, metaphors and strange riddles and nonsense rhymes, nuanced and convoluted… I would love to quote from the book alas, somebody is reading it since a couple of years and I forgot who has the book…  Read the book, after all the drama, there is also a residue of tenderness and happiness that will stay with you after you closed the book. Take this roller coaster ride.

 Suzanna Arundhati Roy was born on the 24th of November 1961. Her father was a Bengali Hindu tea planter, who was not really part of her life. She left home at the age of 16, living precariously in a squatter’s colony in Delhi. She was trained as an architect, and wrote two screenplays for films. She used the proceeds of her prize and book to become a full time social activist using her writing skills for political essays. She wanted to make a difference. Sadly she lost the fight against a large dam as construction started in 2003. Sometimes the bulldozer is mightier than the pen. She also is a travel writer, before going on holiday to India, look for travel books….

No comments:

Post a Comment