”The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy – Book Review
”The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy – Book Review

”The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy – Book Review

For every reader, once in a while a book comes along and slaps you in the face. ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy was one such book for me. I had heard so much about the book for a long while now but never picked it up. Last week while I was browsing through the books in my office library I came across it and decided to finally read it.

The God Of Small Things is the story of two twins Rahel and Estha from a small town called Ayemenem in Kerala and how how their lives are changed forever one December day in 1969. As is oft repeated in the book ‘things can change in a day’ and they do in spectacularly tragic ways. The narrator mentions ”Perhaps it’s true that things can change in a day.That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house — the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture — must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for.”

It is late May in the little of town of Ayemenem when the book starts off. By early June the monsoon has arrived. This transition from summer to the monsoon is described so vividly that it paints a detailed picture in your mind. These first two paragraphs are a lesson in writing descriptions of the place and weather. It is raining heavily as Rahel arrives at their ancestral home some 25 years after the events of that fateful day in 1969. The rain is pouring down in torrents ”plouging the soil like gun fire”. Rahel wanders around in the house with the memories of her twin brother creating a storm in her mind. The narrative then describes the relationship between the two twins. By the time you reach the third page you know that you are reading something extraordinary. The book takes only three pages to make such an impact.

The story then slowly unfolds and we are introduced to the best character of the whole book, the twins’ mother, Ammu. She has become my favorite woman character of all times. Life has hit her hard many times but she remains strong and principled. Her moments with her children are told with such emotion and love that you will be moved to shed a tear or two.Then there is Ammu’s brother and his ex-wife Margaret and their daughter Sophie. Margaret and Sophie’s visit to Ayemenem is the trigger which causes the upheaval in Ammu and her kids’ life.

A mention of this visit is made quite early in the book and not until the last part of the book that one realizes what exactly went wrong on that day that has made Estha not to speak a word ever again and Rahel, to drift aimlessly in life. Roy maintains the suspense so well that not for a second do you feel that that information is taking too long to reveal itself.

There are various themes of love in the book, like the love between siblings,the part where Ammu fixes her brother’s tie is one of my favorite ones amongst many. Then there is love between Mother and her children. There are some tender and heart rending moments between them. And finally there is the love between a man and a women. Roy touches upon the subject that the society decides who can be loved and by whom. The narrator mentions that there are ”laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.”

Roy’s writing is extraordinary. Her descriptions evoke multiple feelings. Love,nostalgia, sadness and happiness all combined in equal measure. She uses capital letters now and then in the middle of words. She creates now words like children often do and as puts pretty rhyming sentences. It is a compelling narrative. And to think this is her debut book.

There is so much sadness in this book that you will be spending copious amounts of time just putting the book down and staring at the walls for hours. By the time you finish it it will have drained you. This book will stay with you long after you finish the final page. It is a masterpiece well worth your time.

I have huge respect for Arundhuti Roy now.



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