Arundhati Roy is an acclaimed Indian author and activist best known for her Booker Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things. However, before rising to literary fame, Roy pursued an education in architecture that honed her creative talents. Examining Roy’s college years provides insight into her early influences and formative experiences that shaped the voice of this iconic writer.
Quick Facts About Arundhati Roy’s Education
- Attended Corpus Christi School in Kerala for primary education
- Studied architecture at Lawrence School, Sanawar
- Graduated from Delhi’s School of Planning and Architecture in 1984
- Met future husband Pradip Krishen at architecture school
Early Life and Schooling in Kerala
Arundhati Roy was born in 1961 in Shillong, Meghalaya to a Syrian Christian mother and Bengali Hindu father. However, she spent most of her childhood in Aymanam in Kerala, where she attended Corpus Christi School. After her parents’ divorce, Roy moved with her mother and brother to Kerala.
Roy excelled in her studies at Corpus Christi, showing early promise in writing and public speaking. She gave speeches as school leader and participated in debates, hinting at the skilled orator she would later become.
Architectural Studies at Lawrence School
After finishing her primary education in Kerala, Roy’s mother sent her to study at the Lawrence School, an elite boarding school at the foothills of the Himalayas. Roy attended Lawrence School between the ages of 13 and 17.
At Lawrence, Roy shifted her academic focus to architecture. The school had an excellent architecture program, offering her the chance to cultivate her creativity through design. Roy thrived in the program under the tutelage of dedicated faculty like B.V. Doshi, developing strong technical drafting and modeling skills.
The School of Planning and Architecture
After graduating from Lawrence, Roy set her sights on the prestigious School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in Delhi. The highly competitive university accepted only 15 students annually into its architecture program. Driven by her passion for the field, Roy was one of the select few admitted to SPA in 1979.
Over the next 5 years at SPA, Roy gained exposure to prominent architects and honed her abilities. She drew inspiration from SPA faculty like Raj Rewal, Achyut Kanvinde, and Kuldip Singh. As graduation approached, Roy proved herself a top student with natural design talents.
In 1984, she completed her education at SPA, earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Her time at the university prepared her for a career in the field and stoked her creativity for future literary works.
Meeting Future Husband at Architecture School
An important personal relationship began for Roy during her college days – it was at SPA that she met her future husband, Pradip Krishen. Two years her senior at SPA, Krishen quickly took notice of the intelligent and striking underclassman.
The two students fell in love while collaborating on creative projects and sharing their passions for architecture, writing, and filmmaking. After Roy graduated in 1984, she and Krishen got married. Their relationship enabled both to develop as artists across disciplines.
Early Professional Career After College
Armed with her architecture degree, Roy initially worked at the National Institute of Urban Affairs, designing and building structures across India. During this time, she gained invaluable hands-on experience and honed her craft.
However, Roy soon realized her true calling lay in writing rather than building design. She found the architecture profession too restrictive and lacking the creative fulfillment she desired. Just a few years after university, Roy made the life-changing decision to devote herself fully to writing.
The storytelling and communication skills she developed in college served Roy well as she launched her literary career. By 1997, she published her epochal novel The God of Small Things and stepped firmly into the international spotlight.
College Years Sowed Seeds of Activism
While at college, Roy’s sensitivity to injustice was awakened as she became aware of issues plaguing society. She involved herself in student organizations and protests on campus, experiencing political activism for the first time.
The anti-establishment perspective Roy cultivated during her university years laid the foundation for her future work as an activist. The courage she gained to challenge authority and defend the oppressed became the hallmark of her subsequent campaigns.
Without her college experiences expanding her social consciousness, Roy may not have blossomed into the incisive political essayist and bold human rights advocate she is recognized as today.
Legacy as a Creative Powerhouse
From her stellar academic record to her marriage to Pradip Krishen, Roy’s university years were formative times that left an indelible impact. The creative foundation built at SPA enabled Roy to ultimately leave her own distinctive stamp on literature.
Roy’s status as an architect of magical and poignant fiction is firmly tied to those early architectural studies. The nuanced voice that earned accolades for The God of Small Things was developed in classrooms and dorms at Lawrence School and the School of Planning and Architecture decades prior.
Where Can I Read Roy’s Novels and Essays?
Arundhati Roy’s writing can be purchased in print or electronic formats from major booksellers worldwide, including:
- The God of Small Things – Roy’s debut novel and masterpiece
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Her 2017 magical realist novel
- The End of Imagination – Landmark 1998 essay on nuclear weapons
- My Seditious Heart – Collection of nonfiction through two decades
Who Has Roy Inspired With Her Activism?
Throughout her career, Arundhati Roy has motivated countless readers and activists with her sharp political commentary and bold defense of human rights. Some of the individuals inspired by Roy include:
- Greta Thunberg – The young climate activist has said she admires Roy’s environmental advocacy.
- Archie Panjabi – The British Indian actress partnered with Roy on a short film about exploitation of widows in India.
- Alice Walker – The American novelist has praised Roy’s writing and activism on social justice issues.
- Medha Patkar – The Indian social reformer was influenced by Roy’s stand against mega-dams.
- John Cusack – The actor calls Roy’s writing “eye-opening” in highlighting corruption and injustice.
- Noam Chomsky – The philosopher credits Roy’s essays with unveiling oppression within world democracies.
- Vandana Shiva – The physicist and ecologist lauds Roy’s critiques of globalization and environmental exploitation.
Through both her fiction and nonfiction, Roy empowers and gives voice to the disenfranchised. The inspiration she provides kindles the activism of like-minded individuals worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions about Arundhati Roy’s College Years
Where did Arundhati Roy attend primary school?
Arundhati Roy attended Corpus Christi School in Aymanam, Kerala for her primary education.
What was Arundhati Roy’s field of study in college?
Roy studied architecture at both Lawrence School and Delhi’s School of Planning and Architecture, earning a bachelor’s degree.
Where did Arundhati meet her future husband Pradip Krishen?
She met Krishen while studying architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture in the early 1980s.
What was Roy’s first job after graduating college?
After earning her architecture degree in 1984, Roy worked briefly at the National Institute of Urban Affairs.
How soon after college did Roy begin writing fiction?
Just a few years after graduating in 1984, Roy realized her true passion was writing. She published her first novel The God of Small Things in 1997.