The God of Small Things Author:Arundhati Roy Southern India 1969. Here, armed only with the invincible innocence of children, Rahel and Esthappen fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, who loves by night the same man her children adore by day...their blind grandmother, who plays Handel on her violin...their beloved un... more »cle, A Rhodes Scholar pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher...their enemy, an ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt...and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth. But when their English cousin and her mother arrive for a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in an instant, that lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever. 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.« less
This is one of the most brilliant and beautifully written (although painful) novels I've ever read -- although not an easy read. Arundhati Roy is a master of language --- and of slowly enchanting the reader in a nonlinear plot that is both mystifying and compelling.
Readers might want to be aware that there are free online guides to the book at gradesaver.com,shmoop.com, litchart.com and wsu.edu - all are a great help in reading and understanding it! Be sure to google the title, as there are also a few excellent articles online on the book. The character lists provided by the study guides are helpful, but some contain spoilers. You may want to create to create a character/genealogy chart identifying each character as she appears and his/her relationship to the others. I've created and posted a genealogical chart here:
I've created one and posted it at: http://www.windweaver.com/literature/gost.png
I'm also teaching the book in continuing ed in the Boston area, both in a literature course and a creative writing course focusing on imagery, simile and metaphor. Please message me if interested in either one.
This is an incredible book, and just like the river that is so central to the haunting yet beautiful lives of the main characters. The prose will catch you up and carry you along in its flow, while the story meanders and ebbs and flows -- sometimes tranquil, and sometimes fast and furious. Wow.
Roy is an amazing story-teller and wordsmith. Her exotic descriptions are vivid, haunting and her rendering of children's thoughts and habits very life-like. The non-linear plot has you a bit confused at first but once you settle into the rhythm of the book, you enjoy each chapter as it comes, expecting the story to unfold to finally tell you what "terror" the book hints at all along. Roy is a gifted writer and well worth your time. I will definitely seek other books by her.
The author has chosen an interesting approach to this novel. There are many stories in the story, and to confuse us even more the author chose a flashback narrating style. We enter the story in the 1990'ies as the young woman named Rahel returns to her village (in a small town in Kerala, in India) to be reunited with her twin brother Esthahappen (shortened Estha), whom she hasn't seen in many years. (That being said, the story in "God of Small Things" is set for the most part during the 1960's.)
Two of the lead characters are the fraternal twins Estha and Rahel. They are bonded (unusually) close, so close that they think of themselves as "Me", and when separated as "We" or "Us", this to their family's great frustration. Told from the childrens point of view, the story centers on the story of the twins' childhood, the tragic death of their English cousin, why Estha stopped speaking, to mention something, but not too much.
There are many interesting characters in this book, and several of them has a great potential, such as Grandma Mammachi, Grandaunt Baby Kochamma, the handyman Velutha (another important character), Ammu etc. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, few of them are very well developed.
It is not often I almost put a book down, but I almost gave up with this one. Arundhati Roy's prose and writing style is unusual, and I enjoyed this novel for its prose more than for the story. I was never sure where the author was headed with the story. This left me confused. On top of that, I am sure that I missed some of the metaphors, as well.
I enjoyed this novel. I like fiction that shows how it is in other times and places. This story follows a family of two children and their mother. Their home life is complicated by the absence of the father, the relationship the children develop with an uncle, and what happens when his wife and daughter visit from England. The children's lives are much enriched by their close friendship with a man of much lower caste: their relationship with him makes up for a lot of losses in their family. I enjoyed a story in which children have a good, healthy, loving relationship with an adult male. Of course there's tragedy and torment; it's a post-modern, post-Colonial novel.
The writing is very good. There are some stylistic mannerisms I could have done without, but overall good writing. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's interested in family dramas in exotic locations.