2002 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize awarded to Arundhati Roy

Biographical Details and additional links for Arundhati Roy

Arundhati RoyLannan Foundation has awarded its 2002 Prize for Cultural Freedom to the writer Arundhati Roy of Delhi, India. Roy will receive $350,000 in prize money, and she has announced that the money will be shared by 50 people’s movements, publications, educational institutions, theater groups, and individuals in India. (List provided below.)

According to foundation president J. Patrick Lannan, Jr., “As both an artist and global citizen, Arundhati Roy writes about civil societies that are adversely affected by the world’s most powerful governments and corporations. We are honored to celebrate her life and her ongoing work in the struggle for freedom, justice and cultural diversity.”

In September 2002 Roy spoke in Santa Fe for the foundation’s Readings & Conversations series, where she delivered the lecture “Come September,” a critical examination of the effects of U.S.-led corporate globalization, the “war on terrorism” and the history of U.S. intervention in Chile, in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and in Iraq. 

Arundhati RoyArundhati Roy’s writing, precise and powerful, highlights her commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice. Roy first gained international recognition in 1997 when her book The God of Small Things was published.  Her first and only work of fiction to date, the book garnered Roy the prestigious Booker Prize.  Later, in The Cost of Living, she condemned India’s nuclear weapons testing and the displacement of its poor and indigenous citizens by the construction of massive hydroelectric dams.  Most recently, her book Power Politics discusses the privatization of India’s power supply and the politics of writing.

Roy also gained attention for her essays questioning the U.S. government’s war on terrorism and its impact on innocent civilians in Afghanistan.  Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, her articles “The Algebra of Infinite Justice” and “War is Peace” (included in the second edition of Power Politics) were among the most widely distributed e-mails among progressives in the United States, and are still disseminated and discussed today.

Arundhati RoyRoy’s writing and outspoken viewpoints on India’s policies have landed her in court on several occasions.  After a criminal trial that lasted over a period of a year she was sentenced to one day in jail in the spring of 2002 by the Supreme Court of India for contempt of court. She has also been forced to defend her fiction against the charge of “corrupting public morality.”

Arundhati Roy Biography
Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India.  She studied architecture in Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India.

Roy is the author of the novel The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. The novel, which was published in cloth in 1997 by Random House and in paperback in 1998 by HarperPerennial, has been translated into dozens of languages worldwide.

She has written two non-fiction books, The Cost of Living (Random House / Modern Library) and Power Politics (South End Press), which have been collected under the title The Algebra of Infinite Justice in India (Penguin India) and the United Kingdom (Flamingo).

In April 2003 South End Press released Roy’s non-fiction book “War Talk,” which includes her essay “Come September,” a critical examination the effects of U.S.-led corporate globalization, the “war on terrorism” and the history of U.S. intervention in Chile, in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and in Iraq.

Roy is featured in a new BBC television documentary, “Dam/age,” which chronicles her work in support of the struggle against big dams in India and the contempt of court case that led to a prolonged legal case against her and eventually a one-day jail sentence in spring 2002.