This novel is simply a work of literary genius. Roy couples an intriguing story along with Indian culture and values to create one of the best novels of the last century. One need not be familiar with Indian culture to enjoy the book, but it does help to know that India has a caste system which largely prohibits the mingling of certain peoples.
Her prose is fluid and the novel provides enough twists and turns for even the most reluctant reader. While this is the only book Roy has written, it's nothing short of fabulous. Give it a go if you haven't already.
I am so thankful I got to read this book. Roy is a stunning author who plays wonderfully with her words, which she calls the "graphic design of language." All her descriptions and the words that she chooses to use are unique and memorable. Beyond that, the story is poignant, heartbreaking, and will incite you to tears of hopelessness and yells of fury, all the while sticking with you. Highly recommended.
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've never read anything like The God of Small Things before. The words, the phrases, the structure - all fresh and alive. After reading such magnificent prose, I feel like my writing has changed. I feel like I'm no longer bound by the usual, common sense rules of writing. In this, Arundhati Roy is a genius.
Paragraph by paragraph, the story is stunning and beautiful. I felt transformed into a child again, where words run together and ordinary things have extraordinary meanings. The composition of the novel was unlike anything I've encountered, or even imagined was possible.
It's as if Arundhati Roy wrote the story chronologically on a deck of playing cards, then threw them in the air and constructed the book as she gethered the cards in her hands. The tale is out-of-order, and not in the usual way. While reading, I remained in awe of this new kind of storytelling. At the same time, though, I often managed to get lost and had to turn back a few pages to find my way again. What makes this story brilliant also makes it difficult and sometimes exhausting.
Another interesting aspect of the writing is that you know the outline within the first chapter. There is no suspense for what is coming, but rather how it comes. The reader is taken back and back again to the same events, but is given more knowledge and detail with each revisit. I would almost say that this is a novel best read a second time.
Rating this book is difficult. I feel like it should be read for the extraordinary language and unique construction rather than for pure leisure. It is a must-read if you're a writer or aspiring writer, but probably okay to skip if you aren't
I have always been fascinated with India and I love this book. Truly beautiful, powerful and disturbing story. I'm swapping the paperback version because I bought the hardback for my permanent collection.
I'm sure that it would have been considerably more enjoyable, if I were more familiar with the mores of the culture and indeed the culture itself.