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Tim Adams on Arundhati Roy in the Observer
Arundhati Roy has two voices. The first, dramatically personal and playful, was the one in which she wrote her extraordinary debut novel, The God of Small Things, a semi-autobiographical account of growing up in rural Kerala. The second voice is flatter and angrier, more urban and distrustful of the quirks of the individual. She describes it as "writing from the heart of the crowd"
...Roy, now 47, describes the difference between the two voices as the difference between "dancing and walking". It is a long while since Roy's writing has danced. She says she pedestrianised her imagination not out of choice, not at all, but because there seemed nothing else to do.
...I have the sense, talking to her, that she distrusts intensely the idea of herself as a literary icon. "It is true," she says, "that success is the most boring thing, it is tinny and brittle, failure runs deeper. Success is dangerous. I have a very complicated relationship with that word. I think that I was quite a grown-up child, and I have been a pretty childish adult. When I was very small this mad uncle of mine who is one of the main characters in my novel took me on one side and showed me this horrible bauble. He said 'Do you want this?' I was maybe three or something, and of course I did. He said, 'Well I will give it you as long as you promise to fail.' That idea has certainly stayed with me."