Book Review: The God of Small Things

For the first third or so of this book by Arundhati Roy, nothing much happens. However, with an unconventional writing style that is light and alluring, she manages to immerse the reader in the culture, the people, the weather, the flora, the fauna, and the very soil of the Indian state of Kerala.

When the narrative finally gets past the tip of the iceberg, events are fast and deeply disturbing. Misfortunes that were foreshadowed become ominous incidents described in gory detail. Roy’s nonlinear writing gives the reader the experience of being shown miniscule, enthralling bits of a great picture, and then the larger horrifying sections they compose.

Roy narrates the histories of several complex characters with tenderness and honesty, evoking deep sympathy in the reader, as well as a feeling of helplessness at the pain they suffer and inflict upon each other. This book is not unconcerned with love–sexual, maternal, paternal, fraternal or between friends. However, the love described in this book keeps getting infected and twisted out of conventional forms by human nature–selfishness, prejudice, grief, hope, and politics.

I observed a self-similarity in the book: Roy’s writing style is quite light, but the emotions she evokes in the reader are deep, powerful, and weighty. Similarly, what her characters do to each other could be worse, but the consequences of their actions are unimaginably destructive.

Tags: Reading

Updated at: 8 January 2006 11:01 AM

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