2000_0521_Arundhati_Roy_1296-1-2Arundhati Roy (born November 24, 1961) is an Indian novelist, activist and a world citizen. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her first novel The God of Small Things.

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. She then proceeded to study architecture at the Delhi School of Architecture, . . .

The following is an interview with David Barsiamian. The interview was conducted before a live audience in Seattle WA in 2004.  Elmont Online is proud to feature this interview as it's frist in a series of online lectures over the next 12 months.  By way of introduction, we have excerpted the 'turkey pardoning' allegory for your reading.  It is hoped that you participate by sending us your thoughts on this selection and suggestions for future presentaions.  Tell a friend, form a group, invite a guest, lets get Elmont talking constructively.

"The tradition of 'turkey pardoning' in the U.S. is a wonderful allegory for New Racism. Every year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation presents the U.S. President with a turkey for Thanksgiving. Every year, in a show of ceremonial magnanimity, the President spares that particular bird (and eats another one). After receiving the presidential pardon, the Chosen One is sent to Frying Pan Park in Virginia to live out its natural life. The rest of the 50 million turkeys raised for Thanksgiving are slaughtered and eaten on Thanksgiving Day. ConAgra Foods, the company that has won the Presidential Turkey contract, says it trains the lucky birds to be sociable, to interact with dignitaries, school children and the press. (Soon they'll even speak English!)

That's how New Racism in the corporate era works. A few carefully bred turkeys – the local elites of various countries, a community of wealthy immigrants, investment bankers, the occasional Colin Powell, or Condoleezza Rice, some singers, some writers (like myself) – are given absolution and a pass to Frying Pan Park. The remaining millions lose their jobs, are evicted from their homes, have their water and electricity connections cut, and die of AIDS. Basically they're for the pot. But the Fortunate Fowls in Frying Pan Park are doing fine. Some of them even work for the IMF and the WTO - so who can accuse those organizations of being anti-turkey? Some serve as board members on the Turkey Choosing Committee - so who can say that turkeys are against Thanksgiving? They participate in it! Who can say the poor are anti-corporate globalization? There's a stampede to get into Frying Pan Park. So what if most perish on the way?. . ."