The God Of Small Things
Title: The God Of Small Things
Author: Arundhati Roy
Year of publication: 1997
There are some things which can only be handled by literature and the black holes of comprehension. ‘The God of Small Things’ is not just one of them but also among the modern pioneers of the list.
Published in 1997, winner of the Booker prize, this is a story with many more stories in it, narrated across 340 pages. The title, obscuring the genre of the book, is very well justified right from the first chapter and keeps adding deeper meanings and layers to it throughout.
Plot and observations:
Set in the post-colonial period in a village of Ayemenem, ‘The God of Small Things’ is a saga of forbidden love and carefree childhood infiltrated by dysfunctional families, a cultural tension, political and social variables defining caste equations, inchoate misogyny and the integral uncertainties building the perception of life, if not life itself.
As much as this is the story of dizygotic (two egged) twins, Estha and Rahel, it is also the story of Ammu, their mother and Velutha, her untouchable lover; Baby Kochamma, Sophie Mol, Mammachi and Uncle Chacko.
The non-linear narrative takes us to the present and to the past in the same chapter. This style of narration tells us why the characters do/think what they do/think adding more depth and texture to their lives.
Every sentence is exquisitely craved with beautiful cleverness, childlike honesty and pure imagination. Dark political humour scattered here and there forces you to close the book and contemplate it with the current happenings. The rich metaphors, stunningly visual imagery and the usage of native language not only paint the clear picture of the mind of the author and the character but also spares enough space for the reader to interpret it. Most sentences have a much deeper meaning.
The narration being non-sequential makes the reader read for the sake of feeling it and living in the story. The death of Sophie Mol, Ammu and Velutha is mentioned right in the first chapter as it mentions the incident in Abhilash Talkies that leaves a prominent and permanent impact on Estha. We know who dies when and how we just read it to feel the agony the death caused. We know everything about the character when we have just started identifying the character and start to either fall in love with them.
The choice of words and the architect of the sentences has an outstanding essence throughout the narration, the essence which differentiates between sex and the lovemaking.
The ending of the book is largely criticized and appreciated. As it leaves most of us with the questions of morality it also continues the cycle of self-destruction running in the family making the end more natural. Ironic, isn’t it? It also keeps the brackets open for the reader to fill in.
The most difficult question for an avid reader is to name his/her/their most favourite book. It’s like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. Her answer would be a classic “I can’t do that, they are all the same for me”. I’d say the same if you ask me about my favourite book (It’s a different thing that I’ll go ahead and use the name of my favourite book as a password to my GoodReads profile 😉 )
Any review without criticism is often taken as a love letter written by a book lover appreciating the book. While the book is largely criticized, I personally find only one aspect of it subjected to criticism. The book is not an easy read and the reader has to invest a lot of self into the book even up to reaching the first half of the book. It took me a year and two attempts to get through this but after that, this book took me to a whole new dimension and I read it once every year.
The god of Small things is more than a literary boon. Most readers might associate the title with Velutha, as it is very deliberate in the book, but like me, some might even associate it with our very existence. Life is but an integral of small things. And all those little moments of pleasure and happiness, the small things which tell us who we are, make us what we are, might just be regarded as ‘The God of Small Things’.
Lastly, there is one sentence in the book which has made a huge impact on my life both on a personal level and as a writer. “That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”
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