THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS
CLASSICALLY PAINFUL YET MEMORABLY SWEET
“When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”
Ratings: 4.3 / 5
There are only a few books till date that satisfy the reader like eating after a long period of hunger. The debut novel of Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things, is one such novel that pleases the reader to the core, making them want to read the book over and over again. And it’s not a surprise that this phenomenal piece of literature was a recipient of the Booker Prize in 1997, making Roy the first Indian woman to win this prestigious award.
God of Small Things is quite a clever book weaves a story with no particular protagonist. The plot revolves around a family and explores the life of the fraternal twins, Rahel, and Esthappen. The setting takes place in a small town of Kerala, India, where religions like Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, coexist and rub against one another.
The story begins at its end and it ends at its beginning. It goes back and forth effortlessly between two different timelines of 1969 when the twins are 7 years old, and 1993 when they are reunited after 24 years. And contrary to having a definite flow, the story employs snippets, leaving it up to the reader to piece it together in accordance to the story.
Throughout the book, the twins are thrown into various difficult situations that they could never have dreamed of being in. This in turn demonstrates how painful it is to maintain childhood innocence. The story portrays how one person’s blunder affects each and every member of the family. It shows how when a child loses their innocence, they begin to lose their trust and faith in all things that are good. The aura of positivity they came into the world with starts to diminish slowly. This hardens their hearts, but ruins their future like a bitter gamble of give and take. A heart wrenching journey of two pure kids trying to figure out their way through life that is extremely chaotic and traumatizing, leaving them with a scar that remains painfully numb for the rest of their lives.
The book also successfully unveils the corrupted mindset of India regarding love, untouchability, and caste hierarchy. It shows the reader how it affects a person in a deeper manner than it appears on the surface. Involving failed marriages, illegitimate affairs, terrifying betrayals, mournful deaths, obscene child abuse, and bruising domestic violence, the plot dives into tales that are never told but always lived. Roy focuses the story on the small things of the society that are hushed and hidden away in the dark nooks and crannies. Unearthing these leave an effect that lingers and haunts long after the book has been put down.
Each word is carefully written, each sentence is perfect, speaking to the readers. Roy has a way of using metaphors and similes that are a joy to utter in whispers and exquisite to relish in the heart. She makes up words like “dullthudding”, “furrywhirring”, and deliberately misspells them like “infinnate”, which just adds up to the rawness of the whole story. On the flip side, there are instances where overly lengthy description of the tiniest details are given, and are repeated many times. In the book itself, there are many moments or explanations which are unnecessary and can be omitted without affecting the plot of the story.
But then again, as mentioned, the book is about focusing on the small things after all.
There is a reason why this book has been a recipient of the Booker. The story is gripping and is written masterfully to haunt you. 23 years after being published, this has remained as one of the favorites for people who love being carried deep into a time and place that shape the destinies of the characters.
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