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The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers' demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale. . . . Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade o The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers' demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale. . . . Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family—their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts). When their English cousin, Sophie Mol, and her mother, Margaret Kochamma, arrive on a Christmas visit, Esthappen and Rahel learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river "graygreen." With fish in it. With the sky and trees in it. And at night, the broken yellow moon in it. The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it. The God of Small Things takes on the Big Themes—Love. Madness. Hope. Infinite Joy. Here is a writer who dares to break the rules. To dislocate received rhythms and create the language she requires, a language that is at once classical and unprecedented. Arundhati Roy has given us a book that is anchored to anguish, but fueled by wit and magic.


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The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers' demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale. . . . Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade o The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers' demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale. . . . Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family—their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts). When their English cousin, Sophie Mol, and her mother, Margaret Kochamma, arrive on a Christmas visit, Esthappen and Rahel learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river "graygreen." With fish in it. With the sky and trees in it. And at night, the broken yellow moon in it. The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it. The God of Small Things takes on the Big Themes—Love. Madness. Hope. Infinite Joy. Here is a writer who dares to break the rules. To dislocate received rhythms and create the language she requires, a language that is at once classical and unprecedented. Arundhati Roy has given us a book that is anchored to anguish, but fueled by wit and magic.

30 review for The God of Small Things

  1. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less. Honestly, I wanted to like this one SO much but it was terrible. The novel follows a multi-generational Indian family in 1969. The matriarch, Mammachi, is their abused and blind grandmother. Ammu is the weary mother of fraternal twins, Esthappen and Rahel. The twins' favorite uncle, Chacko, brings his white wife over for Christmas, the twins immediately fall in love with their cousin - only to realize just how quickly life That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less. Honestly, I wanted to like this one SO much but it was terrible. The novel follows a multi-generational Indian family in 1969. The matriarch, Mammachi, is their abused and blind grandmother. Ammu is the weary mother of fraternal twins, Esthappen and Rahel. The twins' favorite uncle, Chacko, brings his white wife over for Christmas, the twins immediately fall in love with their cousin - only to realize just how quickly life can change. And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside. That good things become bad, in an instant. This was the trouble with families. Like invidious doctors, they knew just where it hurt. This book is one of the Important Novels - the ones that get talked about over and over about how Significant and Essential they are for reading...and much like many Important Novels , I just didn't enjoy it. Now, the last time I didn't like an Important Novel (*cough* *cough* Animal Farm), I was besieged with comments about how I was too stupid to understand the novel (I will maintain, at least in that novel's case, that "getting it" and "liking it" are two entirely separate things. I didn't like Animal Farm. Period.). However, for The God of Small Things, I honestly don't know if I didn't like it because it was bad or if I just didn't get it. I couldn't follow a thing. The timeline was disjointed, often skipping ahead followed by flashbacks, so I felt disoriented and disgruntled much of the time. The prose was overly complicated and tiresome to read. I love beautiful language and elegant metaphors... but this one had so much of both that it would sometimes take pages to figure out a single subtle point. The characters felt more like snapshots rather than fully fleshed out characters. So much metaphor time, absolutely no character development. And, in general, the plot was one giant grey mess. Did something happen? Was it significant? Or was it just humans being garbage people to each other? This seems to happen a lot with critically acclaimed books - people love it, but without that badge or sticker of approval, I don't really think it would be so popular. Ultimately, it's one very confused star. Not a fan of this one. DISCLAIMER: I'm a huge audiobook fan, so I picked up the audio version. Maybe I shouldn't have? I kept getting confused (this novel (to me) was difficult to follow via audiobook, even when I repeated the beginning 3xs) so perhaps if I had read it the book would've felt less disjointed and I would have enjoyed it significantly more. But I'm not feeling up for a reread, so my review will stand as is. YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rajat Ubhaykar

    Okay, first things first. The God Of Small Things is a very very clever book, but what makes it exceptional is that it is both beautiful and crafty, a rare combination. This book has structure. Lots of it. She effectively creates a language of her own, a juvenile lucid language which complements the wistful mood of the book beautifully. The plot moves around in space and time with masterful ease and one can't help but experience a vague sense of foreboding, a prickly fear in the back of your nec Okay, first things first. The God Of Small Things is a very very clever book, but what makes it exceptional is that it is both beautiful and crafty, a rare combination. This book has structure. Lots of it. She effectively creates a language of her own, a juvenile lucid language which complements the wistful mood of the book beautifully. The plot moves around in space and time with masterful ease and one can't help but experience a vague sense of foreboding, a prickly fear in the back of your neck. From what could have been just another tragic incident, Arundhati Roy weaves a poignant story about the loss of innocence and the far-reaching devastation caused in the aftermath of one tragic event. She examines every character with a genuine warmth, their motivations, insecurities and most importantly, their unfulfilled dreams, the definitive universal human tragedy. 'The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.' Voltaire said. This book is an appropriate example of how true that adage is. Like a loving mother with only one piece of pie, she withholds information and doles it out at the most opportune moments, yet never does the plot become incomprehensible. In fact, we lap it all up and can't wait for the next serving. To even attempt to summarize the plot would be to take everything away from it because, well, surprise!, the book really is about the Small Things. And the Really Big Things. On one level the book is about freespirited Ammu, our very own Madame Bovary. It's about Rahel and Estha, Ammu's twin children, their innocent childhood infringements and the soarings and stiflings of their little hearts, their complex entwined lives which are governed by the Love Laws, that lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much. And how long. On another level, it's about the idea of men being social constructs. About our lives not really being in our hands. About our lives really being governed by the forces of the invisible big bad things, a sadistic child holding a horshoe magnet to the disparate iron filings of our small, insiginificant lives. In short, a History lesson. A lesson in Indian caste dynamics and the communist movement of Kerala. About how the Really Big Things often seep into the Small Things, like tea from a teabag. What hurts the most is not the intensity of the characters' suffering, but the fact that it is extremely commonplace, their suffering, like labour pains, like the food chain. An Indian food chain tragedy, based on caste and other offerings History left behind in it's wake. It demonstrates how all caste-based violence is ecological, based on fear, the strange fear the powerful have for the powerless. Us and them. At the end of it, what I got from the book (I think) was that though the Really Big Things might be really fucked up, most of the times the Small Things more than make up for it. Really.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adrianne Mathiowetz

    Lush, gorgeous prose: reading The God of Small Things is like having your arms and legs tied to a slowly moving, possibly dying horse, and being dragged face-down through the jungle. I mean, like that, only nice. You can't stop seeing and smelling everything, and it's all so foreign and rich. Potentially ripe with e coli. The similes and metaphors Roy employs are simultaneously tactile and surreal, like an overly vivid dream, and her storytelling style is somewhere between Joseph Conrad, Emily D Lush, gorgeous prose: reading The God of Small Things is like having your arms and legs tied to a slowly moving, possibly dying horse, and being dragged face-down through the jungle. I mean, like that, only nice. You can't stop seeing and smelling everything, and it's all so foreign and rich. Potentially ripe with e coli. The similes and metaphors Roy employs are simultaneously tactile and surreal, like an overly vivid dream, and her storytelling style is somewhere between Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, and Pilgrim's Progress (if you actually read That Particular Gem). Key sentences reappear a few chapters later multiple times throughout the book: the main one, of course, being "Everything can change in the course of a day." And if you're going to repeat a sentence multiple times in a book, that's certainly not a bad one. The one thing that makes me hesitant to go all out with the five stars is the whole backwards plot development thing. At least early on in the book, it struck me as a little gimmicky, especially since the end result is so dramatic. Estha doesn't talk any more. Why doesn't Estha talk any more? Something must have happened to him. When did it happen to him? As a child, something very bad happened to him as a child. You're probably wondering what that is now, right? Well now let's talk about his aunt. He's got a mom too. This is what their garden is like. Hey, remember Estha, that kid you're wondering about? Yeah, something definitely happened to him as a kid. Keep reading, suckers! But I shouldn't say that, because, of course, it turns out you're not a sucker for reading this book, and the joke is on me for ever thinking so in the first place.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    Please excuse me while I go sit in this corner and be dreadfully underwhelmed. The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize in 1997, and I'd heard very good things about it. And yet I really didn't like it. It's not a bad book - far from it. The characters she has created are really wonderful, and she has succeeded in evoking all the noises and sights and smells of Kerala, even for someone like me who's never been further east than Poland. The narrative structure is disjointed, wandering from the Please excuse me while I go sit in this corner and be dreadfully underwhelmed. The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize in 1997, and I'd heard very good things about it. And yet I really didn't like it. It's not a bad book - far from it. The characters she has created are really wonderful, and she has succeeded in evoking all the noises and sights and smells of Kerala, even for someone like me who's never been further east than Poland. The narrative structure is disjointed, wandering from the now to 1969 and back again, but I never found myself getting confused by it. The language use is inventive and creative and original; there were times when I found myself pausing to read back over a particular metaphor or simile because it was just that beautiful or thought-provoking. But the further I read into the book, the more strained the language seemed. It seems to be teetering more and more from the wonderfully ornate to a kind of thing that reminds me of Victorian architecture - all curlicues and flourishes and bilious cherubs and buildings that look like gigantic, overdone wedding cakes. It's too much all at once, overwhelming the eye and leaving me feeling faintly sea-sick. I don't like the tone she takes in parts of it, either; especially when she's talking about human nature or history or the caste system. Not that I don't agree with a lot of what she says - I do - but she's too didactic. I think it's her tendency to put every line in a new paragraph in these sections. A subtle hand will always serve you better, I think.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    This review is going to be a short one because that’s what happens when almost two months pass after I read the book. I avoided this novel for years although I knew it was a modern classic. I read that it was pretentious and confusing due to its nonlinear structure. I also had the impression it will be very long and similar to The Midnight Children (did not enjoy that one), only written by a woman. Some said that it is the worst Booker Winner. I am happy to report that none of my fears proved to This review is going to be a short one because that’s what happens when almost two months pass after I read the book. I avoided this novel for years although I knew it was a modern classic. I read that it was pretentious and confusing due to its nonlinear structure. I also had the impression it will be very long and similar to The Midnight Children (did not enjoy that one), only written by a woman. Some said that it is the worst Booker Winner. I am happy to report that none of my fears proved to be true. It was a very fast read, not that pretentious and with just a bit of attention I did not have any problems differentiating between the timelines. So, what I am trying to say, if you are also reluctant to read this, don’t be. The prose is masterful and the story is heartbreaking. I know, I am oversensitive to stories about twins but still, it is hard to remain unmoved. It is a story about the injustice of caste-phobia, a problem still prevalent in modern India. It is a story about love, between siblings, between parents and children, between lovers. It is a story of loss, separation, revenge and injustice. There are so many excellent reviews out there that discuss this novel in detail and all of its themes that it is impossible for me to add anything new. I will only say that the novel made me feel a lot and I count on the fingers of one hand the books that affected me so much recently.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    It is 1969 and India although having achieved independence twenty years earlier is still mired in its caste system. In this light, Arundhati Roy brings us her masterful first novel The G-D of Small Things which won the Man Booker Prize in 1997. A powerful novel filled with luscious prose and a heart rending story, Roy reveals to her readers an India hanging onto to the traditions of the past with a slight glimpse of her future. Ammukutty Kochamma, the daughter of a respected entomologist and cla It is 1969 and India although having achieved independence twenty years earlier is still mired in its caste system. In this light, Arundhati Roy brings us her masterful first novel The G-D of Small Things which won the Man Booker Prize in 1997. A powerful novel filled with luscious prose and a heart rending story, Roy reveals to her readers an India hanging onto to the traditions of the past with a slight glimpse of her future. Ammukutty Kochamma, the daughter of a respected entomologist and classical violin player, desired an education rather than an arranged marriage. Her family belonged to the Touchable caste and, while tolerable of others, desired that their daughter married someone from a family like theirs. Ammu met a Bengali and married for love. He turned out to be an alcoholic and they divorced within two years, although not before giving birth to fraternal twins Estahappen (Esta) a boy and Rahel a girl. Ammu retreats with her children to the family estate, doomed to live a miserable life as an outcast. Even though Ammu raises Esta and Rahel to be brilliant children, the rest of the family resents their presence at the home in Ayemenem. Her father has died and her mother, although a presence, is blind. The new head of the family is her brother Chacko, a former Rhodes Scholar and current member of the communist party. Although he attempts to be a father to the twins, his pseudo-love pines for his biological daughter Sophie Mol who lives in England. While Chacko tolerates the family, Ammu's aunt Baby Kochamma spews nothing but venom at Ammu and her children for the rest of her life. Failed at both becoming a nun and winning over her true love in life, Baby Kochamma desires nothing more than to make all those around her miserable, but especially her divorced niece Ammu and two bastard children. Roy merited the Booker prize for her story alone as it featured forbidden love within the caste system and memorable, multi-layered characters. Yet, what most likely won Roy this award was her masterful prose, which, when combined with her tale, results in an instant classic. Switching from current time to flashbacks, speaking backwards in twin language, and detailed descriptions of Indian life are only a few of the facets contributing to this tale. Adding to the prose the tragic tale of twins separated, a woman denied love because he belongs to another untouchable caste, and other characters pining for a life that might have been, Roy has woven together a true gem. Recently I joined the year of reading women of color challenge, which lead me to read novels by female authors around the globe who I would not have considered otherwise. Arundhati Roy is a gifted storyteller and film writer, whose work should not be missed. Her second novel The Ministry of Upmost Happiness is due out in July 2017. If it is nearly as masterful as The G-D of Small Things, it is a novel that should not be missed. A luscious, complex novel worthy of its awards, The G-D of Small Things merits 5 sparkling stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amytyr

    This is, without a doubt, the single worst book ever written. It makes virtually no sense, jumping from past to present tense so often and without warning that you have no idea whats going on. Out of nowhere the writer mentions filthy disturbing sexual things for no reason. I could not even find a story in there, just meaningless jibberish. The thing that amazes me most though, is that while i am yet to meet a single person that LIKES this book, it makes it onto all the top 100 lists etc. I can o This is, without a doubt, the single worst book ever written. It makes virtually no sense, jumping from past to present tense so often and without warning that you have no idea whats going on. Out of nowhere the writer mentions filthy disturbing sexual things for no reason. I could not even find a story in there, just meaningless jibberish. The thing that amazes me most though, is that while i am yet to meet a single person that LIKES this book, it makes it onto all the top 100 lists etc. I can only believe that this is because there is NO point to the book, but the reviewers and people that complile the book lists feel that no book can be written without reason and so they must be missing the point of it, and therefore rate the book very highly, so they seem as though they are incredibly intelligent and gained some sort of deep understanding from this book of garbage. End Rant.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    I'm all by myself here, but what the hell. This reads like a graduate writing class exercise blown from 20 pages to 300. The metaphors, while occasionally fresh and unexpected, are tedious and frequently stand in for something that could be much less complex. The writing is self-conscious and precious. There is really no good reason to tell the story in such a disjointed fashion. Roy's attempts to recreate the way children view the world were cute for about 10 pages, and then became tiresome (the I'm all by myself here, but what the hell. This reads like a graduate writing class exercise blown from 20 pages to 300. The metaphors, while occasionally fresh and unexpected, are tedious and frequently stand in for something that could be much less complex. The writing is self-conscious and precious. There is really no good reason to tell the story in such a disjointed fashion. Roy's attempts to recreate the way children view the world were cute for about 10 pages, and then became tiresome (there's a reason children don't write novels). Beautiful insights and revelations are buried beneath so much willful density and elaboration that I was just bored. Too much effort, too little editing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Arundhati Roy - image from Slate This is a wonderful, image-rich novel told over several generations of a family in India. The central event is the death of a young girl, and how racism, and petty, CYA politics, results in the death of an innocent for a crime that was never committed. The central character is a girl/woman, a twin, with an almost surreal connection to her other. Their family life is told. There is much here on Indian history, the caste system and how that continues to manifest in Arundhati Roy - image from Slate This is a wonderful, image-rich novel told over several generations of a family in India. The central event is the death of a young girl, and how racism, and petty, CYA politics, results in the death of an innocent for a crime that was never committed. The central character is a girl/woman, a twin, with an almost surreal connection to her other. Their family life is told. There is much here on Indian history, the caste system and how that continues to manifest in the modern world. It won the Booker prize, and is very satisfying.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Samadrita

    As I stand just outside the compound with the untended garden - an uninvited, random visitor - the darkened Ayemenem House resembles a haunted mansion, belying the truth of the lives it once nurtured with maternal protectiveness in its cozy interiors. Derelict. Abandoned. Forgotten. But I remember. I remember the lives lived, and the loves which were birthed by circumstances, loves which breathed for a while before perishing on the altar of conformity. I remember Chacko and Sophie Mol. Ammu and V As I stand just outside the compound with the untended garden - an uninvited, random visitor - the darkened Ayemenem House resembles a haunted mansion, belying the truth of the lives it once nurtured with maternal protectiveness in its cozy interiors. Derelict. Abandoned. Forgotten. But I remember. I remember the lives lived, and the loves which were birthed by circumstances, loves which breathed for a while before perishing on the altar of conformity. I remember Chacko and Sophie Mol. Ammu and Velutha. Rahel and Estha. And, most of all, I remember You. You, the painter of this portrait of a family's downward spiral into oblivion. You, the creator of this life-sized painting of a city and a nation, and all of human civilization in turn. I see You as an iconoclast, persistent in your demand for liberties we are too submissive to dream of acquiring. You ask for things so heedlessly, so powerfully. The right to love whom we want and how much we want. The right to be equal. The right not to be discriminated against. The right not to be left languishing in solitude, battling painful memories. The right not to lose, at any cost, one's faith in the goodness in human beings. You are the rebel we never considered becoming. We do not have courage like yours you see. (Your opinions aired on national television are so often misinterpreted. Deliberately. Craftily.) The sun inside of You that refuses to be subdued by the drear of political machinations, by the evil lurking in the human heart, by the sham of 'development' perpetrated under the helpful charade of nonexistent liberty, equality, fraternity, by every one saying 'No no no, you ask for too much. The world cannot ever be a fair place.', sent a little light my way. That light gives me hope. Your Small God gives me hope. He augurs that the overlooked small, mundane cruelties will only snowball into a tragedy of life-altering proportions later on, a gigantic boulder hurtling down the slope of a mountain crushing everything in its path into an unrecognizable gory pulp of flesh and blood. Small God's wrath will eventually consume Big God's apathy and reduce it to mere cinders. I hope your Small God is right. You speak the esoteric language of children, whose inner worlds are but their own, beyond the reach of the sharpened claws of the Love Laws - worlds which are free and infinite, where fables, dreams and terrifying realities churn into a nonsensical lovely mass, worlds not tethered to earthly considerations. The two-egg twins' interlinked worlds, which stubbornly rejected the continued tyranny of the cycle of injustices perpetuated outside, were the same. Their combined muteness throbbed with the dull ache of longing, loss and irreparable damage. Their collective passivity stood out as a blistering denouncement of humanity always coming second to zealously preserved blind prejudices. And You spoke through Rahel and Estha's silence which rung much louder than a giant church bell chiming away nearby. We stew in our own insecurities and the irrelevance of small personal outrages, unable to take a step forward, helpless captives in the iron grip of the status quo of the world. While You, Ms Roy, take up your pen and fearlessly hail The God of Human Dignity, Empathy and Love - The God of Small Things. So in this space, I thank that God for the Arundhati Roys of the world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    "It didn't matter that the story had begun, because Kathkali discovered long ago that the secret of Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don't deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don't surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover's skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as thou "It didn't matter that the story had begun, because Kathkali discovered long ago that the secret of Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don't deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don't surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover's skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don't. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won't. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn't. And yet you want to know again."- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things Timing is everything regarding books, and I have to say that the timing for this book was excellent as it came to me amid my own reflections of the past, my upbringing, and personal history. This was one of the books I read at the right time and when you do read books at the right time they often hold more meaning for you. This is one of the books that had me hooked from the start. Arundhati Roy is a brilliant storyteller and I fell in love with the structure, the content of this book, the humour, the cultural reflections. This book was a reminder to me of how when I first started looking for diversity in literature, Indian literature was one of the first genres I sought and felt comfortable in despite the fact that it's not my culture. I knew I could relate to the depictions of life in the tropics, life in a former British colony with Britishness being seen as central and something to strive towards as well like I'd previously experienced was very much on my mind while reading this. I found this to be a very compelling, beautiful, sad book, with rich imagery. The historical background was compelling. I had little knowledge of the Kerala area which was the backdrop to twins Rahel and Estha's stories but Roy managed to make the story very compelling with her discussion of Indian social issues and the history of colonialism. And it was not difficult to remember how history shapes us. "Memory was that woman on the train. Insane in the way she sifted through dark things in a closet and emerged with the most unlikely ones-- a fleeting look, a feeling. The smell of smoke. A windscreen wiper. A mother's marble eyes." I liked the non-linear storytelling and I am finding that that's true to life in many ways. Remembrances often aren't linear, and with each chapter more of the mystery is revealed and I find that to be an interesting metaphor in our own lives. There was so much profoundness in this book, and short sentences that, despite their length, had me thinking in all sorts of directions, for example, "Toy Histories for rich tourists to play in" to depict history and rich cultural heritage being lost, and which reminds me of false histories. The wordplay, although it did get admittedly a bit repetitive, was also interesting, and I loved so much of the imagery, especially that of the moth: "The moth on Rahel's heart spread its velvet wings, and the chill crept into her bones." Overall, an excellent and tragic book with unforgettable characters. Definitely worth the read. "Both she and he knew that there are things that can be forgotten. And things that cannot--that sit on dusty shelves like stuffed birds with baleful, sideways-staring eyes."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    A lyrical, mysterious tale of misunderstanding and pain, echoing through the years. At its dark heart, it demonstrates how small things can have multiple and major consequences, meaning that everything can change in a single day. "Anything can happen to anyone. It's best to be prepared." - and these fears trigger tragedy. It is set in Kerala (southern India) in 1969 (when twins Rahel (girl) and Estha (boy) are aged 7) and 23 years later, when the twins return to the family home. As the narrative A lyrical, mysterious tale of misunderstanding and pain, echoing through the years. At its dark heart, it demonstrates how small things can have multiple and major consequences, meaning that everything can change in a single day. "Anything can happen to anyone. It's best to be prepared." - and these fears trigger tragedy. It is set in Kerala (southern India) in 1969 (when twins Rahel (girl) and Estha (boy) are aged 7) and 23 years later, when the twins return to the family home. As the narrative switches periods, hints become clearer and eventually become facts: you know bad things will happen, but it's not initially clear who will be the perpetrators. There is beauty, but always brooding menace of nastiness to come, or echoes of trauma long ago. Caste, communism, Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", "The Sound of Music", whom to love (and how), and insects (especially moths) are common threads. THE FAMILY They are affluent, educated, Anglophile, Syrian Christians. The grandfather (Pappachi) was the Imperial Entomologist and in later years his wife (Mammachi) and their son (Chacko) started a pickle factory (a pickle factory is also significant in Rushdie's Midnight's Children). Their daughter, Ammu, is the divorced mother of the twins, and has "the infinite tenderness of motherhood and the reckless rage of a suicide bomber". The twins' great aunt (Baby Kochamma) lives there as well. She is a bitter woman, who loved, but never had, Father Mulligan, so retreats into false piety. She seeks and relishes opportunities to gloat at the misdemeanours and misfortunes of others: on hearing of scandal, "She set sail at once. A ship of goodness ploughing through a sea of sin". The big event is when Chacko's English ex wife (Margaret) is widowed and she brings Chacko's 9 year old daughter (Sophie Mol) to visit. The other key character is Velutha (son of Vellya Paapen), a clever untouchable, a couple of years younger than Ammu. The family pay for his education and he becomes indispensable at the factory for maintaining the machines, though carpentry is his true skill. There is also Kochu Maria, a house servant, who becomes more like Baby Kochamma's companion in later years. TWINSHIP The powerful bond of "two-egg" twins is essential to the story: "In those early amorphous years when memory had only just begun... Estha and Rahel thought of themselves together as Me, and separately, individually, as We or Us... a rare breed of Siamese twins, physically separate, but with joint identities." However, they spend the years between the two time periods living apart, and that, inevitably, changes things. When returning as an adult, "now she thinks of Estha and Rahel as Them... Edges, Borders, Boundaries, Brinks and Links have appeared." They are now "A pair of actors... stumbling through their parts, nursing someone else's sorrow", and realising, too late, "You're not the Sinners. You're the Sinned Against." GHOSTS The family is founded on preservation: first of insects, then of Paradise Pickles and Preserves, and always of reputation. However, ghosts are everywhere, mainly in the memories of the dead and the ramifications of their deaths, but also in other forms of loss: opportunities, love, names (the twins are without a surname when their parents split) and even the power of speech. "Silence hung in the air like a secret loss." Sophie Mol's death is mentioned on page 4, and although its significance is constantly referred to, the details are only revealed very near the end. Her death "stepped softly around the house... like a quiet thing in socks" and "sometimes the memory of death lives... much longer than the life it purloined". Eventually "Sophie Mol became a Memory, while The Loss of Sophie Mol grew robust and alive. Like a fruit in season. Every season." Those left behind experience "Not death. Just the end of living." The family home descends into dilapidation. Baby Kochamma, once an skilled gardener, lets her plants wither or go wild, while she devotes her life to vicariously living the lives of ghosts she sees on satellite TV. There is also an abandoned house across the river that the twins nickname The History House. There are many explicit comparisons with The Heart of Darkness: it was the home of Kari Saipu, and Englishman who "went native" and "captured dreams and redreamed them". Eventually, he shot himself when his young lover was taken away. BETRAYAL AND THE DEATH OF LOVE There are violent relationships, broken relationships (not necessarily the same) and unrequited love, but it is, of course, the children who suffer most. The twins are raised by their loving but strict mother, but they are haunted by a fear that she will cease to love them. Their "willingness to love people who didn't really love them... was as though the window through which their father disappeared had been kept open for anyone." After Sophie Mol's death, when everything changes, (view spoiler)[Ammu is sent away, Estha is sent to his father, and Rahel is left behind to be raised by her uncle and grandparents, who "provided the care (food, clothes, fees) but withdrew the concern". (hide spoiler)] There are other forms and instances of betrayal and lies, sometimes to keep up appearances, and sometimes for selfish ends. CROSSING BOUNDARIES - OF LOVE AND OTHER THINGS Taboos are many in a society ruled by caste (as well as class and religion), but the family's problems with classification are first highlighted in relation to jams and jellies, and the fact that banana jam was illegal as if fitted neither category. "They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much." And by whom. Gradually, "Estha and Rahel learned how history negotiates its terms and collects its dues from those who break its laws." "History used the back verandah to negotiate its terms and collect its dues. Estha would keep the receipt for the dues that Velutha paid." When pressed by an adult to lie about something significant, "Childhood tiptoed out. Silence slid in like a bolt. Someone switched off the light and Velutha disappeared." There is also confusion and hypocrisy around some of the power relationships, e.g. a wealthy communist landlord and factory owner with "a Marxist mind and feudal libido", and of course, the different levels of sexual freedom permitted for men and women. SMALL THINGS: MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES The whole story is really a demonstration of The Butterfly Effect, although it's moths that are mentioned explicitly (Pappachi discovered a new variety of moth, but wasn't recognised for it). "It was the kind of time in the life of a family when something happens to nudge its hidden morality from its resting place and make it bubble to the surface and float for a while in clear view." There are many other Small Things: * "The God of Loss. The God of Small Things." * Ammu telling Rahel "When you hurt people they begin to love you less", a throwaway line that grows, festers and twists within until it changes the lives of everyone. * Ammu is "Someone Small who has been bullied all their lives by Someone Big". * At big moments "only the Small Things are ever said". * A couple who know they have no future, so "instinctively they stick to the Small Things" * Filth and decay, of which there is much 23 years later, is an accumulation of small things. PORTMANTEAUS A distinctive feature of the writing is the large number of portmanteau coinages. Most are pairs of adjectives or adjective plus noun: sourmetal, oldfood, fishswimming, chinskin, deadlypurposed, longago, suddenshutter, sharksmile, orangedrinks, steelshrill, suddenshutter, stickysweet. However, things like cuff-links are written with a hyphen. Cuff-links also hint at an explanation: when the young twins are told they are "'to link cuffs together'... they were thrilled by this morsel of logic... and gave them an inordinate (if exaggerated) satisfaction, and a real affection for the English language." QUOTES * "Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, flatly baffled in the sun." * "The nights are clear but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation" and in monsoon season "short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with." * "Over time he had acquired the ability to blend into the background... [he] occupied very little space in the world." * "Once the quietness arrived, it... enfolded him in its swampy arms... It sent its stealthy, suckered tentacles... hoovering the knolls and dells of his memory, dislodging old sentences, whisking them off the tip of his tongue. It stripped his thoughts of the words that described them and left them pared and naked." * "Gulf-money houses build by [people] who worked hard but unhappily in faraway places... the resentful older houses tinged green with envy, cowering in their private driveways." * "drifted into marriage like a passenger drifts towards an unoccupied chair in an airport lounge." * "Her eyes spread like butter behind her thick glasses." * He walked away "like a high-stepping camel with an appointment to keep." * "Rahel tried to say something. It came out jagged. Like a piece of tin." * "twinkled was a word with crinkled, happy edges." * The weight of obligation "widened his smile and bent his back". * The things that can't be forgotten "sit on dusty shelves like stuffed birds, with baleful sideways starting eyes". * "Silverfish tunnelled through the pages, burrowing arbitrarily from species to species, turning organised information into yellow lace." * "The ants made a faint crunchy sound as life left them. Like an elf eating toast." * An adult playing with children "Instinctively colluding in the conspiracy of their fiction". * "Insanity hovered close at hand, like an eager waiter at an expensive restaurant." * "resting under the skin of her dreams" * The "transparent" kiss of a child "unclouded by passion or desire... that demanded no kiss-back. Not a cloudy kiss full of questions." * "The great stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably." * "She was too young to realise that what she assumed was her love for Chacko was actually a tentative, timorous acceptance of herself." THANKS I should add that I am really grateful to Steve whose excellent review, and comments beneath, persuaded me to pick up this book asap, rather than let it languish on my shelves any longer. His review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    (92 From 1001 Books) - The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things (1997) is the debut novel of Indian writer Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much." The book explores how the small things affect people's behavior and their lives. It won the Booker Prize in 1997. The story is set in Ayemenem, now part of Kottayam district in Kerala, Indi (92 From 1001 Books) - The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things (1997) is the debut novel of Indian writer Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much." The book explores how the small things affect people's behavior and their lives. It won the Booker Prize in 1997. The story is set in Ayemenem, now part of Kottayam district in Kerala, India. The temporal setting shifts back and forth between 1969, when fraternal twins Rahel (girl) and Esthappen (boy) are seven years old, and 1993, when the twins are reunited. Ammu Ipe is desperate to escape her ill-tempered father, known as Pappachi, and her bitter, long-suffering mother, known as Mammachi. She persuades her parents to let her spend a summer with a distant aunt in Calcutta. To avoid returning to Ayemenem, she marries a man there but later discovers that he is an alcoholic, and he physically abuses her and tries to pimp her to his boss. She gives birth to Rahel and Estha, leaves her husband, and returns to Ayemenem to live with her parents and brother, Chacko. Chacko has returned to India from England after his divorce from an English woman, Margaret, and the subsequent death of Pappachi. ... عنوانها: «خدای چیزهای کوچک»؛ «اله بی کسان»، نویسنده: آرونداتی روی؛ انتشاراتیها (علم، مس، طنین، روزگار، گوهرشاد) ادبیات هند؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه می سال 2012میلادی عنوان: خدای چیزهای کوچک؛ اثر: آرونداتی روی، مترجم: گیتا گرکانی، تعداد صفحه 458، نشر: علم، تاریخ: روز 25تیر، 1387، محل نشر تهران، چاپ نامشخص، شابک 9644053672؛ قطع کتاب: رقعی، وزن: 950گرم موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان هندی - سده 20م عنوان: خدای چیزهای کوچک، اثر: آرونداتی روی، مترجم: زهرا برناک، تعداد صفحه: 480ص؛ نشر مس، تاریخ نشر اردیبهشت سال 1379؛ محل نشر تهران، چاپ اول، شابک 9649202757؛ قطع کتاب: رقعی، جلد: شومیز عنوان: اله بی کسان، اثر: آرونداتی روی، مترجم: شیرین رایکا، تعداد صفحه: 350، نشر طنین، تاریخ نشر: 1380، محل نشر تهران، چاپ اول عنوان: خدای چیزهای کوچک، اثر: آرونداتی روی، مترجم: گلریز قدسی (شهابزاده)، تعداد صفحه: 464، نشر روزگار، تاریخ نشر 1379، محل نشر تهران، چاپ اول، شابک 9646675999؛ عنوان: خدای چیزهای کوچک، اثر: آرونداتی روی، مترجم: شیرین شریفیان؛ تعداد صفحه 320، نشر گ‍وه‍رش‍اد، تاریخ نشر 1380، محل نشر تهران؛ شابک 9646905358؛ کتاب «خدای چیزهای کوچک» برنده ­ی جایزه «بوکر» در سال 1997میلادی، اثر «آرونداتی روی»، در ایران ما با پنج ترجمه‌ ی از سوی بانوان فرهیخته: «گیتا گرکانی»، «زهرا برناک»، «شیرین رایکا»، «گلریز قدسی»، و «شیرین شریفیان»، توسط ناشرها منتشر شده است خدای چیزهای کوچک، داستان زندگی خواهر و برادر دوقلوی «هندی»، با نام‌های «اِستا» و «راحل» است، که مرگ دختر خاله ی نه ساله، و یک عشق ممنوع، دنیای کودکی‌ آنان را نابود می‌کند؛ از سوی دیگر، داستان این کتاب سیری است در سرگذشت اندوهناک خانواده‌ ای، که هنجارشکنی، و در برابر قوانین سنتی، قد علم می‌کند؛ داستان رمان، بیانگر اوضاع سیاسی «هندوستان»، در دهه ی 1960میلادی است، تضاد میان دو طبقه­ ی فرودست جامعه، از یکسو همان «نجس‌ها»، و از دیگر سو ثروتمندان آن جامعه است، همچنین بازگویی سنن، و آداب مردمان «هند»، با تکیه بر اساطیر آن سرزمین نیز هست؛ «راحل»، و «استا»، برادر و خواهری دوقلو هستند، که در کودکی از یکدیگر جدا گشته، و پس از سال­ها، اکنون در کنار یکدیگرند؛ «فلش بک» به رویدادهای زندگی این دو، طلاق مادر «آمو»، دختر دایی نیمه انگلیسی، و....؛ همان کلیشه ­ی فیلم­های «هندی» است، که دختری ثروتمند، عاشق مردی نادار میشود، خواهر و برادری، که پس از سال­ها به هم می­رسند؛ «روی»، با نوشتن این کتاب، جایزه ی «بوکر» را بردند، و سپس در اعتراض به حمله ­ی «آمریکا» به «افغانستان»، همان جایزه را پس دادند نقل از کتاب: «اگر او را لمس می­کرد، نمی­توانست با او حرف بزند، اگر عاشق او می­شد، نمی­توانست برود؛ اگر حرف می­زد، نمی­توانست بشنود؛ اگر میجنگید، نمی­توانست پیروز شود.»؛ پایان نقل تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 03/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    I was grabbed viscerally by this book since yesterday that I finished today which I ended with the word “Tomorrow.” It was beautifully written, but it took me a while to appreciate the supersaturated text as there are analogies and allusions in nearly every sentence. The characters are drawn graphically and realistically. I also liked the Capital Letter words and concepts that are sort of a kids filter on the omniscient narrator’s text. My issue with the book is that all of the characters lack a I was grabbed viscerally by this book since yesterday that I finished today which I ended with the word “Tomorrow.” It was beautifully written, but it took me a while to appreciate the supersaturated text as there are analogies and allusions in nearly every sentence. The characters are drawn graphically and realistically. I also liked the Capital Letter words and concepts that are sort of a kids filter on the omniscient narrator’s text. My issue with the book is that all of the characters lack a soul (the ones alive at the end in any case.) In a sense, it is somewhat predictable, but purposefully so because the foreboding of the climax comes from the opening pages. The final breaking of Love’s Law was, in my view, unnecessary and a bit gratuitous. I am not undermining its strong and necessary feminist undercurrent or, again, the marvelous verbal tapestry that Roy has woven, but i felt a bit at the end like, what was the point? It felt like she settled for a Bollywood-style dramatic finish rather than a more Flauberian one (which given her command of language was at least possible.) This is a modern classic and an important read, I just feel I have read others that left me with a less empty feeling at the end.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Petra needs staff not addicted to their phones

    I remember trying to read this book half a dozen times. (view spoiler)[I knew I had added this book and that it had disappeared from my shelves so I re-added it 11 May. Well now I find in Dropbox. I exported my books June 1th 2014 and this is the file and the book is on it. So how did it disappear? I've never had proof before that I really had added a book that GR removed. I've had them tell me I must have removed it in error, but so many? Of course not. Besides I don't remove books from the boo I remember trying to read this book half a dozen times. (view spoiler)[I knew I had added this book and that it had disappeared from my shelves so I re-added it 11 May. Well now I find in Dropbox. I exported my books June 1th 2014 and this is the file and the book is on it. So how did it disappear? I've never had proof before that I really had added a book that GR removed. I've had them tell me I must have removed it in error, but so many? Of course not. Besides I don't remove books from the bookshelves but only from the review page (this one) so it would be extremely unlikely to be in error. (hide spoiler)] Everyone else liked it, so I thought I must get through it, but I never could. I loathed the characters and didn't want to read about them so although I would regularly make it to about 100 pages, more than that I couldn't do. Maybe I should have perservered, but life is too short and there are too many 5 star books to discover out there. What is the expression, ars longa, vita brevia?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    I tried to stay afloat with all my willpower but the unchained maelstrom gurgling in Small Miracles and Big Calamities sprouting from this novel proved to be far too violent for my feeble arms and my fragile heart. So I drowned. I died a thousand deaths engulfed by the swelling waters of this lush river of flowing allegories and rippling parables that washed my being over and over again in waves of piercing beauty and unbearable sadness. Mimicking the natural cycle of the lunar tide, Arundhati Ro I tried to stay afloat with all my willpower but the unchained maelstrom gurgling in Small Miracles and Big Calamities sprouting from this novel proved to be far too violent for my feeble arms and my fragile heart. So I drowned. I died a thousand deaths engulfed by the swelling waters of this lush river of flowing allegories and rippling parables that washed my being over and over again in waves of piercing beauty and unbearable sadness. Mimicking the natural cycle of the lunar tide, Arundhati Roy fills the meaningless river of existence with steady repetitions of insignificant details in Small Lives to disclose unutterable Big Losses that leave no footprints in a Godless shore where only raw lyricism exists, a lyricism that kicks the reader in the gut with its brutal magic realism. Small Things. Small Lives. Unimportant People. Regal Mammachi founded the family business Paradise Pickles & Preserves and Pappachi beat her daily with the expected traditional cruelty because they wouldn’t name His Moth after him. Grand-aunt Baby Kochamma, to whom happiness eluded a long time ago, poisons the minds of the abandoned souls around her like a slithering snake that bites back in stealthy bitterness. Chacko, the son and heir of the family, is the apple of Mammachi’s eye, a conflicted Anglophile and a self-proclaimed Marxist whose identity has been snatched away by the conquerors he so much admires. His sister Ammu is a divorced mother of two-egg twins, whose golden skin transpires a stirring restlessness when she sits on the riverbed with stars in her eyes, bathed in silver moonbeams and aching to be cherished. Velutha, the Untouchable carpenter of a lower caste, carries the river inside him and dives gracefully to wistful shores of vulnerable dreams made of pieces of porcelain where fair and dark can melt in streams of unforbidden passion ignoring the Love Laws that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much". A Small Family in a Big boat-shaped piece of Earth seen through the innocent eyes of two-egg twins, Estha and Rahel, also known as Ambassador Elvis Pelvis for Estha’s pointy shoes and Ambassador Stick Insect for Pappachi’s trapped Moth that flutters inside Rahel’s heart. When their clean, blonde and adorable British cousin Sophie, Chacko and his ex-wife Margaret’s daughter, enters the twins’ lives they sense rather than understand their Smallness in this Big Play of life, where not all children are equal to those who most matter. The glorious river, fecund with fish of bigotry, keeps streaming down to a blind date with History, where two-egg twins sail in the boat of blameless childhood unaware of mankind’s Heart of Darkness and Orangedrinks, Lemonadedrinks evils that prowl these murky waters. Waves of grief and guilt will inundate the twins’ vessel for the rest of their journey and only when they finally cross the river twenty-three years later, only when they allow their "Not old. Not Young. But a viable die-able age" two eggs to fuse into one will they find fading relief and slippery consolation. This is the story of Small people who inhabit a vast world where no “God of Big Things" can exist as long as the Laws of abuse and atrocity prevail over the Laws of love and compassion, as long as a "man’s death can be more profitable than his life has ever been." Arundhati Roy unleashes her constrained rage above and below the surface of her cascading voice soaking her text with random capitalization, purposeful italics and titleless chapters which contain Terrors better left unsaid disguised in sumptuous metaphors and lethal prose-poetry, dragging the reader softly with the undercurrents of her pearly writing. I tried to swim, but I drowned. I drowned in beauty and sadness. I dissolved into Roy’s waters. All that was left was a dripping heart-shaped hole in my fluid universe and a faltering hope that things can change in a day and that there is still Tomorrow. Maybe. Or Maybe not.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Roy's mesmerizing debut novel delves into the social tensions and political history of Kerala, India, through the experiences of one affluent family, over the course of three generations. At the book's start the bleak end of the main plot is given away in fragments, and Roy spends the rest of the work cycling among a vast array of perspectives, memories, and time periods, vividly detailing how the sundry small things of the family members' lives led up to an irreversible tragedy. The amount of c Roy's mesmerizing debut novel delves into the social tensions and political history of Kerala, India, through the experiences of one affluent family, over the course of three generations. At the book's start the bleak end of the main plot is given away in fragments, and Roy spends the rest of the work cycling among a vast array of perspectives, memories, and time periods, vividly detailing how the sundry small things of the family members' lives led up to an irreversible tragedy. The amount of characters and subplots introduced is overwhelming at first, but over the course of the novel, all are fleshed out in arresting prose. Roy's exploration of class conflict, colonialism's legacy, gendered oppression, and caste hierarchy is multifaceted and compels rereading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    The big thing about The God of Small Things is the prose, it’s quite something. To be more specific, it’s phosphorescent, forensic, moist, listopian, inflammable, jubilant, childlike, zygotic, hierophantic, susurrant, daemonical, yeasty, garrulous, exact, oleaginous, quaggy, kleptomaniacal, newlyminted, refulgent, blinding, xenogamic, wounding, vulpine, uncanny and taxonomical but allegedly never aleatory. Buried under and squirreled away in the middle of this great mass of mostly (beautiful, con The big thing about The God of Small Things is the prose, it’s quite something. To be more specific, it’s phosphorescent, forensic, moist, listopian, inflammable, jubilant, childlike, zygotic, hierophantic, susurrant, daemonical, yeasty, garrulous, exact, oleaginous, quaggy, kleptomaniacal, newlyminted, refulgent, blinding, xenogamic, wounding, vulpine, uncanny and taxonomical but allegedly never aleatory. Buried under and squirreled away in the middle of this great mass of mostly (beautiful, confounding) child-eye-vision noticing and describing is a knot of connected violence (random and intended), the engorged heart of the matter, that throws various lives round as you might expect. Readers have to be patient, this is not about plot, it’s about how a writer can arrive out of nowhere and at age 35 publish a first novel that creates a bidding war then knocks everyone out and then wins the Booker Prize. After that, by the way, there was (fictional) silence . SOME AUTHORS WHO TOOK A WHILE TO FOLLOW UP THEIR SUCCESSFUL FIRST NOVEL Joseph Heller – 13 Years (Catch-22 1961 to Something Happened 1974) Marilyn Robinson – 24 years (Housekeeping 1980 to Gilead 2004) And the champ Henry Roth – 60 years (Call It Sleep 1934 to Mercy of a Rude Stream 1994) Ms Roy is in the middle, she only took 20 years to follow up The God of Small Things with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. But back to this extraordinary book. Here’s a flavour of what you are going to get. First a description of how one character descends into muteness: Once the quietness arrived, it stayed and spread in Estha. It reached out of his head and enfolded him in its swampy arms. It rocked him to the rhythm of an ancient, fetal heartbeat. It sent its stealthy, suckered tentacles inching along the insides of his skull, hoovering the knolls and dells of his memory; dislodging old sentences, whisking them off the tip of his tongue. It stripped his thoughts of the words that described them and left them pared and naked. Unspeakable. Numb. And to an observer therefore, perhaps barely there. But a whole lot of this book, maybe most, is seen through the eyes of two children aged seven, so we have a lot of almost Joycean weirdness like this: Estha saw how Baby Kochamma’s neckmole licked its chops and throbbed with delicious anticipation. Der-Dboom, Der-Dboom. It changed color like a chameleon. Der-green, der-blueblack, dermustardyellow. Twins for tea It would bea. And we have many, many little lists too : Then the policemen looked around and saw the grass mat. The pots and pans. The inflatable goose. The Qantas koala with loosened button eyes. The ballpoint pens with London’s streets in them. Socks with separate colored toes. Yellow-rimmed red plastic sunglasses. A watch with the time painted on it. SIMILEWATCH As usual I like to spot the funny similes that authors love to heap up, it’s like some of ‘em think similes are what writing a novel is for. Here are some favorites (my own little list) : Like an eager waiter at an expensive restaurant Like substandard mattress-stuffing Like shining beads on an abacus Like a room in a hospital after the nurse had just been Like lumpy knitting Like hairy cannonballs Like an unfriendly jewelled bear Like sub-tropical flying-flowers Like an absurd corbelled monument that commemorated nothing Like a press of eager natives petitioning an English magistrate INDIAN WRITERS For me they divide into the plain R K Narayan Rohinton Mistry Adiga Aravind Sunjeev Sahota Ruth Prawer Jhabvala And the flowery Salman Rushdie Nadeem Aslam Kiran Desai And Arundhati Roy Which is not to say that the plain can’t turn a delightful phrase or the flowery can’t think up a decent story. I CONFESS I AM A LITTLE SURPRISED That The God of Small Things gets so much readerlove as it does. It’s eccentric and often confusing, maddeningly detailed and slow-burning and I can imagine it won’t be everybody’s bright green mocktail with a paper umbrella. The 336 pages can read like 500 at times, because there’s an intricate (disrupted, fractured) sequence of events and understandings to be fitted together, and the author takes her own time. So, I know it won the Booker Prize, but don’t let that put you off.

  19. 5 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    If one ever has trouble sleeping at night, then I highly recommend "The God of small things". It has been tried and tested by yours truly, and quite honestly, this is one of the most underwhelming books that I've read in a good while. This won the Booker prize in 1997, and reading some of the positive reviews on here, I was expecting to be truly dazzled. I hear that this book is important. Important to whom exactly? I felt nothing for this. I think I can address the main issue immediately, that If one ever has trouble sleeping at night, then I highly recommend "The God of small things". It has been tried and tested by yours truly, and quite honestly, this is one of the most underwhelming books that I've read in a good while. This won the Booker prize in 1997, and reading some of the positive reviews on here, I was expecting to be truly dazzled. I hear that this book is important. Important to whom exactly? I felt nothing for this. I think I can address the main issue immediately, that being, I just couldn't follow what was written. The plot was everywhere. It didn't feel smoothly written, the plot was detached which mostly lead to a great deal of confusion and irritation on my end. There were lots of flashbacks, which made the present tense storyline disorientated. Now, I love beautiful writing, but this became incredibly tedious. There were SO many metaphors thrown in, and it was difficult to recognise if I was reading something significant to the plot or not. It just didn't work, and, there is a such word called "overuse". I cannot go into considerable detail about the characters, as the character development was basically non existent. There were a good amount of characters in this book, and by the end of the book, they were still just names to me. This book for me, was comparable to one of those mud pies, that you make as a kid, in which you add a bit of everything to, grass, stones, your dads gardening gloves, your ghostbuster figures, and eventually, what you get, is one huge, confused mess. TIP: Never trust a Booker prize winner.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samra Yusuf

    At times, we suffer more from memory than the past action, we are haunted by the imagination more than reality, in a flash it’s gone, and we carry the heartache of “what if” for a lifetime to our heart, We repeat in our mind, tens and hundreds of things to say instead, we imagine infinite remaking of a vision that has gone with the wind, like two lovers of night who meet at a distant bay, trembling with the fear of what lays ahead, and pleasure of anticipation, both hesitant and hasty,loveres fa At times, we suffer more from memory than the past action, we are haunted by the imagination more than reality, in a flash it’s gone, and we carry the heartache of “what if” for a lifetime to our heart, We repeat in our mind, tens and hundreds of things to say instead, we imagine infinite remaking of a vision that has gone with the wind, like two lovers of night who meet at a distant bay, trembling with the fear of what lays ahead, and pleasure of anticipation, both hesitant and hasty,loveres fall in a frenzy of incoherent movements, rapidly exhausting each other, now they lie down strangled still, drained and brimmed all at the same ,as they hear the clinking melody of their battered breaths, and at day break, the lovers get apart, with memories of scents,breaths,crunched leaves and a short-spanned haven, fresh in their mind like bleeding wounds, 'Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day’ lovers become strangers and tomorrow never comes. What comes is the memory, of a long gone face, of a broken smile, of a silenced voice in a dark cell, a man, an untouchable pravaan,a communist of lowly cast, the shimmering swimmer of the waters of passion who leave no footprints when walks in dark, the man of big heart, the God of small things. I never have happened to dislike a book’s narrative to the extent of leaving it unfinished twice, and never have I been so tormented by the fate of some fictional character to the extent of changing it repeatedly in my frenzied head, It wasn’t supposed to be this achingly beautiful and sensually agonizing. The whole air of the book is blue, ironically, there’s nothing apparent to mourn for, no higher-than-sky tragedy befalls, only the Law of Love’s broken, laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much.” And consequently, the outlaws been disciplined to correct what’s gone irrevocably wrong. Still, I struggle with the pronunciation of characters’ names, I find no prudent purpose for interweaving narrative that seems out of place at places, had it been not for the melancholic aura of characters that blankets them and the wistful style of unveiling froth events, the novel could easily be reckoned as a work of gimmicks. The vague incest between twins, darts the attention away from the murky flow of the story,Book is encumbered with coinages and innovative phrases that only add to frustration on the part of reader that is fueled by the never-ending elaborations of the words used. Bigotry has to be uprooted at the basis immediate as is done filtration of the air, in places contaminated with plague, we have to become receptive, or indifferent in the attempt, at the very least, to save the Gods of small things!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Ansbro

    3.5 I usually love books that are set in the Indian subcontinent but found this one frustrating to be honest. On the one hand it was a tour de force of sumptuous prose, but on the other I found that the narrative meandered all over the place, making it difficult to for me (with my grasshopper brain) to keep up. Although Roy's writing is kissed by the gods, I'm a great believer in a story's need to flow and my early enthusiasm became steadily dampened as the book progressed. 3.5 I usually love books that are set in the Indian subcontinent but found this one frustrating to be honest. On the one hand it was a tour de force of sumptuous prose, but on the other I found that the narrative meandered all over the place, making it difficult to for me (with my grasshopper brain) to keep up. Although Roy's writing is kissed by the gods, I'm a great believer in a story's need to flow and my early enthusiasm became steadily dampened as the book progressed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    I recognize that when it comes to this book, platitudes are worth even less than usual when it comes to the conveyance of something with actual meaning. So on that note I will spare both you and I that. Instead, I will comfort myself in the core of metaphor, and go from there. To say that this book resonated with me is akin to saying that ingestion of arsenic does a decent job of causing multi-system organ failure. To say that I read it at the right time is akin to saying that the added latex to I recognize that when it comes to this book, platitudes are worth even less than usual when it comes to the conveyance of something with actual meaning. So on that note I will spare both you and I that. Instead, I will comfort myself in the core of metaphor, and go from there. To say that this book resonated with me is akin to saying that ingestion of arsenic does a decent job of causing multi-system organ failure. To say that I read it at the right time is akin to saying that the added latex to the cord did a decent job of being the exact amount required to turn a free fall finality into a sustained oscillation, one that is holding strong to this day. To say that it changed my life forever is too easy and too simple, for it’s taken me four years to come back to it and realize how pervasively the thematic pulses have suffused by sensibilities, and how differently it could have gone had they not. Rather than spill guts that are still too close for me to speak of in comfortably distanced terms, I will simply say that on the first day of this rereading, I went back after finishing and played video games until I could trust myself with serious mental activity again, for if there's one thing I've learned from 'Infinite Jest' is that, sometimes, thinking your way out of something is the worst decision you could possibly make. But before that, I wrote the above. Now that I've finished, and have all the resources at my disposal, I can bring you this: And there it was again. Another religion turned against itself. Another edifice constructed by the human mind, decimated by human nature. It's absurdly hilarious, almost, how many times the book hurls its meaning at you in very discreetly concrete packages. Religion, culture, foreign relations, politics, family, belief, blood, and binding. It would come off as trite and pretentiously overdone, were it not for the systematic destruction of every storytelling methodology usually used to deliver such life lessons. Industrialization, information, travel, passionately, monetarily, and so many other pathways of escape usually offered up on the altar of the 'happy ending', or anything but a 'thoroughly debilitating reality of an ending', and the most popular, love. Love, its How and its How Much. But more important than all that is Growing Up. The Bildungsroman, the promise Time gives to its more helpless constituents. Or at least, a promise humanity likes to think exists. Tell me, how much resonance would these menacing Facts of Life have, Facts that are as rampant in India as they are in America, will continue to be so anywhere as long as humanity crawls and craves its way across this modern day society of ours, if any of these escapes had succeeded in bringing about content complacency? How many reviews have I read that mentioned Tragedy of it All, an emotional dagger that will latch on in grim urgency when everything else has faded to a brief recollection of word and thought, guarantee a remembrance of pain if nothing else? About as many as I've read that mentioned the Prose. The Prose. Something I believe set the stage for how far I was drawn into this novel, unconsciously resonating with the viewpoint it conveys. For of all the books I have read over the years, and I have read many, there are very, very few that I can think of that look at children in terms of reality. Not childhood. Childhood is a substitute for serious thought that individuals with a respectable amount of years behind them love to use instead of considering those smaller, briefer in accumulated existence individuals. Reality is what all human beings swim through from day one, and there are no mandates that the early years of that swimming will be kind ones. 'The Instructions' realizes this instruction in full, and so does this. Never does the reader observe an indulgent pandering to the senses of the smaller ones when the story delves into History, Literature, Politics, Culture, and all the constrictions that overlay whatever life they have been granted. All that these smaller ones truly lack is enough experience with the darker sides of all these things to make them complacently seek a spot in life that requires no curiosity, no discovery, no fumbling in the dark. Complacency, in reaction to fear of Unexpected Consequences. Without these, they see the world in weird and wonderful fashions, not yet attuned to what must be looked at, what must be covered up, and how best to go about said covering up. And thus, you get the prose, a nauseatingly delicious mix of lush rankness as fertile undergrowth clambers up cold and unyielding civilization, a breeding whose resulting Beast of Burden is neither good, nor bad. It simply is. Until, of course, humans get their hands on it. For it is up to humans to figure out how to use this world they have been given. Those who learn too late are, well. They should have known better. There is no number of years required for complete loss of faith in every concept of redemption at the hands of family, friends, and familiar social setting clustered around an ideological stability. There is no standard age of accepting the fact that the Self is a blip with no entitlements to happiness, or that none of the standard handbooks for such Entitlements work. There is no length of existence where it is proscribed to demand that one make the decision of what value the Self has in its continued existence, and what it will take to maintain said existence. There is no amount of living that results in the realization that 'What It Will Take' will not necessarily coincide with any form of 'Sustainable Living'. For a long time, I thought, it could be worse. Nowadays, I think, it could be better. Today, I take the Deposit of It Could Be Worse, and invest it in the Debt of It Could Be Better. My chosen methods of doing so have been met with surprised gestures at my age, perhaps unspoken surprised gestures at my gender, some days I have to wonder. I look at this book, and think to myself, here's a lesson I learned long ago. I don't plan on wasting it by standing still.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    There was no reasoning with this book. It caught me with its word-shaped eyes and wanted to lock horns. It threw me to the ground and thrashed me every time I picked it up. During some of these thrashings I came out on top, but most of the time I was overwhelmed by the book’s overpowering strength in spite of its meager spine. In the last match, as if it had been training me, I overcame the book. I had naught to do but reflect upon the struggle that had brought me to slamming shut the final page There was no reasoning with this book. It caught me with its word-shaped eyes and wanted to lock horns. It threw me to the ground and thrashed me every time I picked it up. During some of these thrashings I came out on top, but most of the time I was overwhelmed by the book’s overpowering strength in spite of its meager spine. In the last match, as if it had been training me, I overcame the book. I had naught to do but reflect upon the struggle that had brought me to slamming shut the final pages in victory and I Found Myself Confused In the wake of this book I found myself asking a question I had asked myself before, but never properly answered. Not to say that I will answer it properly here. Not to say that there is a proper answer. The question: Can I forgive a book for a painful read if it pays off in the end? My fiancé gifted Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things to me for Christmas because: a) It was a Booker Prize Winner b) It was written by an author not from Canada, the US, or the UK. c) She read reviews that both praised and bemoaned this book She knows me well! Indeed, the book hit a lot of my personal tick-boxes. The God of Small Things had been on my radar for a long time and as I settled in to the first chapter I was blown away by how difficult it was to follow. The writing, floral and descriptive, was of such density that I was taken aback. Of course, this subsided after a while and I became adjusted to Roy’s prose. With that said, there’s a lot going on and it isn’t explained in a manner that could be described as linear. The story starts, stops, and jumps around with enough regularity that it almost demanded to be read it long sittings. Roy slips backwards in time within paragraphs, at times forcing me to go back and read what I had just read to make sure I was interpreting the passage correctly. Roy also jumps around between characters frequently. Since she playfully gives her characters variations on their names or uses parts of the story that have passed to inform their description, it can be tough to get a handle on the cast. But once you let go of your expectations and go along for the ride, the book has many rewarding qualities. The characters are each well developed, understandable, and are tied together by a shared fate. Though the novel read as disjointed throughout, Roy brings everything together quite well. The novel’s first chapter serves as an odd synopsis that is obscure enough that you wouldn’t be able to point out its intricacies, only identify the major tragedies. The character-driven plot becomes rewarding when the artifice of the fragmented timeline is laid bare by the novel’s end. Whether or not that reward is worth the strain is another topic. Certainly, it isn’t all strain. Roy took home the Booker Prize in 1997 for this novel, and it is easy to see why it might have come out on top. It has a unique format, but more importantly, really, really attractive, if extravagant, writing. Some of the descriptions in this novel are so vivid that they’ll have you basking in their beauty and horror. In that way Roy has done an impressive thing: shown the beauty and the terror inherent in the real world. Of course, it also makes for an exhausting read. I’m sure reader opinion will vary on this one since appreciation of style is such a subjective matter, but Roy’s prose both works for and against her. It makes for some pretty mind pictures, no doubt. It also had me putting down the book to take a break more often than I do with novels. The book is layered with metaphor, endlessly self-referential, and sometimes obscure enough that I’ll admit, unembarrassed, that I had no idea what it was supposed to mean. So, did the tying together of everything justify the reading? Well, certainly I’ve learned things from the reading about prose that are beneficial. However, the struggle never made me feel rewarded like I have been with other challenging works. There’s a lot of beauty and great thought to behold in this novel of India, but I always felt a little removed from the proceedings. Somewhere amidst a struggle with stream of consciousness, appreciation of writing, bafflement at a timeline, and enjoyable characters you'll find my opinion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Okay, it won the Booker prize and everyone has said it before - but god damn is this one melancholy piece of work, and that's actually why I like it. It's melancholy, not depressing, and it answers more questions about the characters than it first seemed to, although, I have to say, the characters on the whole are quite two-dimensional. Then again, so are a lot of real people: this is an indictment of human life if ever I saw it. The language is brilliant, the running together of words to form the Okay, it won the Booker prize and everyone has said it before - but god damn is this one melancholy piece of work, and that's actually why I like it. It's melancholy, not depressing, and it answers more questions about the characters than it first seemed to, although, I have to say, the characters on the whole are quite two-dimensional. Then again, so are a lot of real people: this is an indictment of human life if ever I saw it. The language is brilliant, the running together of words to form themes, the lack of any explanation when shifting around in time that isn't needed, because the style and/or perspective is changed so fluidly that it takes only half a second to readjust yourself. I think perhaps the pacing in the final quarter, leading up to The Incident, was the best piece of work I have read although one or two things seemed out of place, allowing us to guess too early what happens, once or twice. Still, that adds to the picture we build, and assists the final drama in being oh-so-very dramatic. My favourite/least favourite aspect of the story is the same exact thing: Baby Kochamma's fate. If you've read it you'll know that what she deserves she would deserve only at the hands of a gang of cops, but the way she spends the vast majority of her life, her unbending belief and continued pathetic existence, is actually her just punishment. But by god I wanted to lean into the pages and throttle the hell out of her come the finish. Anyway, yes it really is a magnificent book, fully deserving of all five stars, but while it isn't actually depressing, it is melancholy as hell. Can't say enough about some of the characters because they are painted so richly, the two protagonists especially, but even though the actual events, while brutal, tragic and realistic in their consequences, are important and could very well devastate so many lives as the lives in this book were so devastated, they were hardly `epic` as so many reviewers like to claim. Worse things happen at sea, still.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Celeste Ng

    As soon as I finished reading it, I literally turned it over and began reading it again. (Later, I discovered that a reviewer said and did the exact same thing!) This book is incredibly crafted--in plot, in structure, in language, in emotion. I read it to remind myself of that kind of book I hope to write someday. One of my all-time top-5 desert island books.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A remarkable book; and it won the Booker! When I sat down on finishing it to think about the themes I realised how much ground Roy had covered and in such a beautifully written way. The themes include the caste system, religious tensions, communism, forbidden love, history and colonialism, class, culture, to name but a few. It is a family saga told in the third person and is not really sequential; the plot in outline is known from fairly early in the book. The plot revolves around twins Rahel and A remarkable book; and it won the Booker! When I sat down on finishing it to think about the themes I realised how much ground Roy had covered and in such a beautifully written way. The themes include the caste system, religious tensions, communism, forbidden love, history and colonialism, class, culture, to name but a few. It is a family saga told in the third person and is not really sequential; the plot in outline is known from fairly early in the book. The plot revolves around twins Rahel and Esthappen, but is seen mainly from Rahel’s point of view. Other family players include their mother Ammu, their uncle Chacko, great aunt Baby Kochamma; Chacko’s daughter Sophie Mol is much heralded during the book and pivotal, but only plays a small part. Other important characters include Velutha, an untouchable who works at the family pickle factory. Roy’s characters bend and break rules, they cross boundaries (“boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom”), they transgress. Although this is set in Kerala in South India away from Partition affected areas, separation and demarcation are still are still significant. Recently I’ve read Heart of Darkness and I was hoping I’d seen the last of HoD references for some time; but no. Roy employs them is quite a significant way. Kari Saipu, the Englishman who “went native” is a Kurtz type, explicitly so, but Chacko (who is an Anglophile) also plays a similar role. This is especially the case when he says in reference to the family business “My factory, my pineapples, my pickles” (contrast with Kurtz, “My intended, my ivory, my station”). The setting Ayemenem, becomes a sort of heart of darkness for several characters. The divisional lines between east and west and between masculine and feminine are clear. Chacko is able to do what Ammu cannot in terms of intimate relationships. In life and in death Ammu is persistently penalised and persecuted by tradition, culture, by male chauvinism, by denial of education, in life and in death. The narrative is grim and tragic, but Roy writes with great style and even humour about profound and important themes. The book doesn’t need me to promote it, but if you haven’t read it; please do.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    What does it say about me that I get sort of happy to find an imposter in the canon? I feel like the gestapo, that terrifyingly powerful... like I'm finally undoing or deciphering the spell that this work invokes upon the general (albeit intelligent reading) audience. Others could have easily taken its place on that memorable list... & why oh why would lauded "Tropic of Cancer" or "Mao II" possibly be considered classics, too? & here is another. An award winning "masterpiece" held high on the lit What does it say about me that I get sort of happy to find an imposter in the canon? I feel like the gestapo, that terrifyingly powerful... like I'm finally undoing or deciphering the spell that this work invokes upon the general (albeit intelligent reading) audience. Others could have easily taken its place on that memorable list... & why oh why would lauded "Tropic of Cancer" or "Mao II" possibly be considered classics, too? & here is another. An award winning "masterpiece" held high on the literati's bookshelf. The plot is delicate--solid, actually. Call this "The Sound and the Fury 2.0." Taking on the stream of collective consciousness technique, flowing freely through time, exploring psyches and associations... all that here, in a more digestible helping. Faulkner's infamous prose confusion is not a specter here, thank god. But... It's hard to say this, to just out-and-mention this: THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS is unbelievably pretentious. Capital P--pretentious. Taking strands of quasi intelligent statements and repeating them throughout the twisty plot, again with a furious intensity, as loud as a cascade... all this brings the focus upon the writing itself ("Masterful!"), but not the plot. &... What?!?! Incest?!?! (Last time I checked, this was the most risque thing in .... Flowers in the Attic!) Even that aside, there are still many things askew with the novel. It is semi-tolerable to read, the writer is just too clever to be confined to the parameters of her story--and therefore the case here is that of the writer selling out, making the plot itself (which I wont tire to say--ain't half bad [at least, the family curse plot is richer, more dramatic and heartfelt, than that of the Southern clan of Faulkner's classic]) take a backseat to annoying "writerly" acrobatics. The ending is great, but it too, unfortunately, feels entirely contrived. HAHA, I got YOU...! ...! And you know what, itty book? You really ain't all that!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    There is a lot of beautiful writing in this novel, but the rambling fashion in which this story is told makes it difficult to keep the characters and their timelines straight—we jump back and forth in time for no reason that I can see. The inequality between the genders isn’t just about the fact it takes place in India. It’s also a testament to the era in history in which part of the story is told. For example, Ammu’s parents think education is wasted on a girl, so she marries the first man she There is a lot of beautiful writing in this novel, but the rambling fashion in which this story is told makes it difficult to keep the characters and their timelines straight—we jump back and forth in time for no reason that I can see. The inequality between the genders isn’t just about the fact it takes place in India. It’s also a testament to the era in history in which part of the story is told. For example, Ammu’s parents think education is wasted on a girl, so she marries the first man she meets after only knowing him a few days. After they’re married and she gives birth to fraternal twins, she realizes just how much of alcoholic he is. Too much of a drunkard to hold down a job and support a family. The fact that a male, Estha, likes to cook and clean up after himself and serve himself seconds rather than getting a female to do work for him is frowned upon. Women who aspire to anything with themselves beyond taking care of children and husbands were frowned upon, but it wasn’t all that different here in America in 1969. For reasons I can’t fathom, we’re STILL not paid the same as men for equivalent work. This is a unique and intriguing novel.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Apoorva

    ‘The God of Small Things’ is one of those novels I’ve mixed opinions about. To be honest, it was a little difficult to get through this book but in the end, it was really worth it! It revolves around the life of Ipe family living in the beautiful village of Ayemenem in Kerala. It begins when the twins Rahel and Estha are reunited in Ayemenem. The story switches back and forth between two different timelines beginning in 1993 and going all the way in the past when they were 7 years old. Both of th ‘The God of Small Things’ is one of those novels I’ve mixed opinions about. To be honest, it was a little difficult to get through this book but in the end, it was really worth it! It revolves around the life of Ipe family living in the beautiful village of Ayemenem in Kerala. It begins when the twins Rahel and Estha are reunited in Ayemenem. The story switches back and forth between two different timelines beginning in 1993 and going all the way in the past when they were 7 years old. Both of them are still haunted by an incident that happened long ago. The narrative then switches to the 1960s, when the twins were younger, where we learn about the things that led up to the tragic event that changed their lives in a major way. Through the switching narratives, we learn about the background of the Ipe family and things from their perspective. We also learn about the cultural and political climate of Kerala in the past. First of all, I found the writing in this book absolutely enchanting and poignant in a very subtle way. I liked how the picturesque landscape of the village was described in minute details, even the minor details of objects were put in there, which was fascinating. The backstories of the people were told concisely which managed to capture the essence of the characters. The book has this kind of gloomy ambiance and a lot of foreshadowing is done which makes you want to keep on reading. However, I had a bit of trouble following the events as the timelines just switch abruptly and the writing in the book feels too obscure sometimes. I mean I took my time reading the book, but there were many times I wanted to just give up. But I’m glad I didn’t do that as this is the kind of book that sticks with you for a long time. I think that’s the beauty of it, the language is so peculiar and heart-rending. The book talks about the loss of innocence and the ‘Love Laws’ that govern who should be loved, how and how much. The pain and the suffering of the people really broke my heart. “…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic.” The book talks about the political climate of Kerala in the ’60s where there was a rise of communism and the caste system was already banned by the law. But socially, it was still prevalent as the oppressive system was somehow so embedded in people’s mind that it was impossible to get rid of the prejudice that people felt. The Untouchables were still unacceptable and expendable. This mentality made the innocent people born in a different cast into victims of their own fate. It’s sad to see that this is something that still exists in India, not in a major way but that mindset definitely isn’t gone socially. We also see the unfair treatment that the women received in society. Towards the end of the book, an event takes place that can be called controversial. I don’t want to give too much away but I think the topic was handled very well. I was able to understand the situation and the misery of the people. Also, we see that no matter how messed up the Big Things are, the Small Things are the ones that really matter in the grand scheme of things, the things that keep you going; but maybe those Small Things can also eventually add up to create a huge impact over the lives of people. This book really made me feel the loss and grief that the characters felt. All in all, it’s a great book that shows the ugly face of society. It has a really pretty cover and I’d love to re-read again after I forget the plot! I was amazed to know that this book was the author’s debut novel and she won an award for that. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a patient reader. Otherwise, it’s a fine book worth reading. Read On Blog :)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This is probably one of the most weirdest books I have ever read. I tried reading this when I was 15 and DNF as I got lost amongst the confusing prose.🙃🙃! Ten years later I found the same words compelling and beautiful. It was a mesmerising read for me. I feel like this book is not for everyone. Some people may feel that it is dragging or may not be able to relate to the plot or the characters. Seen through the eyes of 7 year old Rahel, this book initially makes the reader believe it is some silly This is probably one of the most weirdest books I have ever read. I tried reading this when I was 15 and DNF as I got lost amongst the confusing prose.🙃🙃! Ten years later I found the same words compelling and beautiful. It was a mesmerising read for me. I feel like this book is not for everyone. Some people may feel that it is dragging or may not be able to relate to the plot or the characters. Seen through the eyes of 7 year old Rahel, this book initially makes the reader believe it is some silly child's musings about a world and people she is not yet capable of comprehending. As the reader proceeds further, it becomes a serious read, discussing several social issues that existed in Kerala. It points a finger at caste based discrimination, misogyny, Indian politics. It also mocks at people's tendency to imitate all things Western. Like how Chacko, Rahel's uncle goes abroad for studies, or how Sophie mol, Chacko's daughter ( with a British woman) is treated in a superior way by their relatives when compared to how they treat Rahel and her twin Estha, how knowing English is considered as equivalent to being cultured...etc. The impact of globalisation in India is also indirectly portrayed. For eg. the twins and their family going to the theatre to watch The Sound of Music is one such instance. Here we meet strange characters under Rahel's innocent observation. Even if she is unable to determine how vile or how good someone is, or what role they play in her and Estha's life, the reader can easily realise how things/ people are getting manipulated. There is Ammu, Rahel's and Estha's helpless young mother. There is Chacko, Ammu's elder brother who gets to have modern education from England's Oxford University, who marries an English woman. There is the smart, intelligent and caring Velutha, a lower caste man, who is the son of Ammu's family servant. There is Baby Kochamma, Ammu's aunt who fell in love with a priest and spent her entire life as a spinster. There are several such characters and each of them is portrayed in detail, it's a well written character study. The story is written over a very confusing time line. Rahel's thoughts drift between present and past and some intermediate time periods without any warning. The brilliance is that Roy is able to create total sense and order out of this chaos. I enjoyed the carefree and often funny way in which the twins tried to make sense of their surroundings. Roy has used several literary techniques to make it realistic. I reccomend this book to people who love deep thought provoking prose, a bunch of interesting characters and a look into the Kerala society that existed in the 1960s. I rarely find books by Indian authors that are beautiful as well as intriguing and weird! 😊😊. I just cant get enough of this book!!

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