I haven’t done a book review in awhile! I found this one inside a Starbucks that has a neighborhood book-swap-in-a-box. I haven’t read an actual book in a really long time, either! I’ve become a digital convert, so it was especially nice to slip back into old-fashioned nostalgia. The book was covered in at least one person’s scribbles and insight and underlined passages, the cover’s tattered. I miss old, well-loved and traveled books. It’s already telling you the sort of review you’ll give it.
I gave the book four stars on Goodreads:
Lyrically beautiful. Roy’s play on words is brilliant, especially as it’s through a child’s eye. A memorable tale that won’t leave- the characters are described and portrayed so expertly, it’s hard to convince yourself that their story is fictional. It shows the deep flaws of humanity- the self-absorption and indifference, the contempt for anything pure and innocent, and the societal and racial divides that all combine to make two children into the surrounding adults’ whipping boy and girl.
And then you read the author Q & A in the back, and hear what Roy went through following publication (for over ten years!). Charged with public indecency (over something controversial, yes, but very quickly skimmed over in a ‘It just happened’ sort of way), yet she talks about how all Indian movies while she was growing up had violent rape scenes. Pretty convoluted and frightening to get such a taste of someone else’s life. Especially considering the US’s sudden outpouring of erotica that comes with no fallout. As writers in the US and similar countries, we have no concept of fearing that our books will end up causing us harm. Or death.
Highly recommend this book.
16 thoughts on “The God of Small Things”
a great review!
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Well, for ten years following publication, she battled the India courts who charged her with public indecency regarding that book. I believe she is now a political/social activist and writes non-fiction.
This is a book I found so absolutely harrowing I can’t say I enjoyed it. So sad, tragic and awful. Beautiful writing but such terrible experiences.
I know! It’s one of those odd categories where it’s a horrible event that’s beautifully written. But…..it’s not a horrible story, and as gripping as it is, you hesitate to call it beautiful. But it is. Much like ‘The Lovely Bones’. It was a great character portrait and reflection on society- very sharply showing how careless, selfish decisions made by adults definitely and irrevocably destroy children. The behavior of every adult (except for one) in the book was reprehensible. Yet I think people need to be reminded about such occurences in human nature. With a mirror right where they can see. Things can go bad so quickly, but all it would have taken was for one of these people to actually stop and think and then speak up. That’s what I found so powerful.
You are quite right. It’s that the truth is often so ugly we would rather not know about it. A human failing we should strive to overcome.
Perfectly said! Now it’s not quite so unlikeable, when you see its value and purpose, right? It was never about condoning, but understanding the backstory and what leads to things. The end scene with the siblings was not as repulsive as it would normally be. Just so very sad and tragic.
Exactly! Without the backstory the ending would have just left an unpleasant taste in the mouth. As it is, it’s tragic. There’s a lot of compassion and understanding of human nature in this writing.
It’s sad that she hasn’t written any more since.
What she did write was so intense that maybe she’s said what she had to say, and hasn’t found the need to go off in a different direction.
The book won the Booker Prize in 1997 but is still relatively unknown to many persons!
It really is a masterpiece,because it evokes pathos and humour at the same time.
The scene where Ammu dies and her body is being cremated is extremely touching!So is the one where Estha leaves!(Of course,other scenes touched me as well,but listing them here would take too much space and time).
I read the book 3 or 4 times,yet it never ceases to move me!
Definitely,it should be known more! 😀
On a side note,Arundhati Roy is quite similar to Harper Lee,in that they both never wrote a second novel.Maybe they believe the second novel won’t be as good as the first?But we can’t blame them: they’ve set the bar so high on their first attempt!
I so wanted to reach into the book and grab Estha 😦 I was shocked to see how old it was, and that I’d never heard of it! It really makes you wonder about ‘Best-Sellers’: Who says? Or, going on Roy’s theme of word play, Best Seller doesn’t indicate Best Read.
Have you read The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman? Another amazing book that hasn’t gotten any nod (that I’ve seen).
I have heard of the book,but haven’t yet read it.
I always forget it (and a few other books also) when going to the library!
But I’ve added it to my wish list now,so I won’t forget! 😀
It must be fun to find an old book with other people’s notes just by chance and then have it turn out to be a great book to boot. I enjoyed reading your review!
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I typically get OCD when I find writing and mark up’s in books, but for some reason it charmed me in this one. Maybe it was a premonitory taste of having a link with someone on the other side of a book 🙂 I would really like to tell them they missed a huge huge thing in their dissection of it!