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. 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. On one level the book is about freespirited Ammu, our very own Madame Bovary. An Indian food chain tragedy, based on caste and other offerings History left behind in it's wake. 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.
The novel follows a multi-generational Indian family in 1969. 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. 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. 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. 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.
As a child, something very bad happened to him as a child. Hey, remember Estha, that kid you're wondering about? Yeah, something definitely happened to him as a kid. 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.
And yet I really didn't like it. But the further I read into the book, the more strained the language seemed.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. The right not to lose, at any cost, one's faith in the goodness in human beings. 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. Your Small God gives me hope. I hope your Small God is right. 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.
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. 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 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. A mother's marble eyes." I liked the non-linear storytelling and I am finding that that's true to life in many ways.
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.