Roy was born in Shillong, Meghalaya to a Keralite Syrian Christian mother and a Bengali Hindu father, a tea planter by profession. She spent her childhood in Aymanam, in Kerala, schooling in Corpus Christi. She left Kerala for Delhi at age 16, and embarked on a homeless lifestyle, staying in a small hut with a tin roof within the walls of Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla and making a living selling empty bottles.
In an interview with Kindle Magazine, Roy pointed out the role of media hype and target audience in determining how well hunger strikes “work as a tool of political mobilization” by noting the disparity in the attention Hazare’s fast has received in contrast to the decade long fast of Irom Sharmila “to demand the repealing of a law that allows non-commissioned officers to kill on suspicion—a law that has led to so much suffering.”
In January 2006, she was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, a national award from India’s Academy of Letters, for her collection of essays on contemporary issues, The Algebra of Infinite Justice, but she declined to accept it “in protest against the Indian Government toeing the US line by ‘violently and ruthlessly pursuing policies of brutalisation of industrial workers, increasing militarisation and economic neo-liberalisation.'”
The God of Small Things was written by Arundhati Roy. It was published in 1997.