Kerala and The God of Small Things

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A full understanding of and appreciation for Arundhati Roy’s novel The God of Small Things requires that the reader be well acquainted with the land and culture through which Roy weaves her tale. Roy achieves the rich descriptive texture and vivid imagery of her novel by writing about something with which she is intimately familiar; […]

Hegemony in Gramsci

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Hegemony “Hegemony” was most likely derived from the Greek egemonia, whose root is egemon, meaning “leader, ruler, often in the sense of a state other than his own” (Williams, Keywords 144). Since the 19th century “hegemony” commonly has been used to indicate “political predominance, usually of one state over another” (Williams, Keywords 144). According to Perry Anderson’s “The Antinomies of Antonio […]

Gandhi’s Salt March to Dandi

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The Salt Tax After proclaiming the Declaration of Independence of India on January 26, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi came to an impasse in his political career focused on freeing India from British rule. A new anti-government campaign was imperative for achieving the secularization of India for its people; it remained unclear, however, to Gandhi what form […]

Communism in India

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Literature and the Communist Movement in India Having a general understanding of the communist movement in India is incredibly important in fully comprehending and appreciating several postcolonial novels, such as Arundhati Roy‘s The God of Small Things and Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh. Along with the politics, it is also important to recognize how nationalism, the caste system, and violence […]

Christianity in India

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Introduction Christians constitute the second largest religious minority in India next to Islam. The 21 million Christians in India account for 2 percent of the total population. With 16.5 million adherents to the faith, Roman Catholics form the largest single Christian group in India. There are approximately 4.5 adherents to the Protestant faith (Europa 1740). The […]

Caste System in India

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Background The caste system in India is an important part of ancient Hindu tradition and dates back to 1200 BCE. The term caste was first used by Portuguese travelers who came to India in the 16th century (See Spice Trade in India). Caste comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word “casta” which means “race”, “breed”, […]

Arranged Marriages, Matchmakers, and Dowries in India

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Arranged Marriages in India Arranged marriages have been part of the Indian culture since the fourth century. Many consider the practice a central fabric of Indian society, reinforcing the social, economic, geographic, and the historic significance of India (Stein). Prakasa states that arranged marriages serve six functions in the Indian community: (1) helps maintain the social […]

Davis, Angela

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Biography “The work of the political activist inevitably involves a certain tension between the requirement that positions be taken on current issues as they arise and the desire that one’s contributions will somehow survive the ravages of time” – Angela Davis, (“Women, Culture and Politics,” 1989). Student, Professor, Communist, Activist, Radical, Presidential Candidate, Fugitive, Feminist, […]

Sembene, Ousmane

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As far as I am concerned, I no longer support notions of purity. Purity has become a thing of the past. . . I constantly question myself. I am neither looking for a school nor for a solution but asking questions and making others think. (qtd.in Niang 176) Biography (b. 1923, d. 2007) Born on […]

Rushdie, Salman

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Biography Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay in 1947, just months before the Partition of British India. His father, Ahmed, was a businessman and his mother, Negin, was a teacher. He grew up loving the escape literature and film offered, and he wrote his first story when he was ten years old. He encountered some […]

Roy, Arundhati

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The information provided on this site for Arundhati Roy is spread across multiple entries. Please click on the following entries for more information about Roy and her most famous novel, The God of Small Things. Kerala and The God of Small Things Caste System in India Christianity in India Communism in India Divorce in India Kathakali

Nair, Mira

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Biography The highly acclaimed director and producer from India, Mira Nair leapt into the world’s spotlight with her film Salaam, Bombay! which was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Mira Nair was born in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa to a civil servant in 1957. She went on to attend the University of New Delhi […]

Kureishi, Hanif

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“From the start I tried to deny my Pakistani self . . . it was a curse and I wanted to be rid of it. I wanted to be like everyone else.” – Kureishi, “The Rainbow Sign” Biography Born December 5, 1954 in Bromley, England, to an Indian father and an English mother, Hanif Kureishi grew up […]

Khan-Din, Ayub

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Biography “This was our Pakistani life; this is how we existed outside Salford. A life none of my friends knew or could understand…I think in [East is East] I came as close as possible to understanding my father’s motivation in the way he tried to bring us up,” explains Ayub Khan-Din with regard to his […]

Hossain, Rokeya Sakhawat

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Biography Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain was born into a Bengali Muslim upper-class family in the small village of Pairaband in the district of Rangpur, north of present day Bangladesh, then a part of the colonial British province of Bengal Presidency. Her date of birth is not known. However, a nephew of hers posits Dec. 9, 1880. Her mother was Rahatunnessa […]

Head, Bessie

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“Love is so powerful, it’s like unseen flowers under your feet as you walk.” – Bessie Head, A Question of Power Bessie Head, one of Africa’s most prominent writers, was born in South Africa in 1937. The child of an “illicit” union between a Scottish woman and a black man, Head was taken from her mother […]

Gooneratne, Yasmine

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Biography Novelist, poet, and critic Yasmine Gooneratne, a graduate of Bishop’s College, went on to graduate from the University of Ceylon in 1959 and also received a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge University in 1962. Gooneratne became a resident of Australia in 1972. In 1981, she received the first higher doctoral degree of Doctor of […]

Doyle, Roddy

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Biography Roddy Doyle was born in 1958 in Dublin, Ireland.  He attended St. Fintan’s Christian Brothers School in Sutton and later continued his education at University College, Dublin. For fourteen years he worked as an English and Geography teacher at Greendale Community School, in Kilbarrack, North Dublin. Since 1993 he has been dedicated to writing full-time. […]

Devi, Mahsweta

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Biography Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in the city of Dacca (now Dhaka) in East Bengal (modern-day Bangladesh). As an adolescent, she and her family moved to West Bengal in India. Born into a literary family, Mahasweta Devi was also influenced by her early association with Gananatya, a group who attempted to bring social […]

Dangarembga, Tsitsi

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Biography In 1959, Tsitsi Dangarembga was born in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, in the town of Mutoko. She spent her early childhood, ages two through six, in Britain. She began her education in a British school but after returning to Rhodesia with her family, she concluded her early education, her A-levels, in a missionary school in the […]

Coetzee, J.M.

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Biography John Maxwell Coetzee, better known as J.M. Coetzee, was born in South Africa to Afrikaner parents on February 9th, 1940. His father worked for the government and also was a sheep farmer. When Coetzee was eight, his father lost the government job due to his differing views from the apartheid government. The family then moved […]

Cliff, Michelle

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Biography Michelle Cliff was born in Jamaica and grew up there and in the United States. She was educated in New York City and at the Warburg Institute at the University of London, where she completed a PhD on the Italian Renaissance. She is the author of novels (Abeng, No Telephone To Heaven, and Free Enterprise), short […]