Most of the readers dismiss this book as serious hogwash. Admit it. You can either love this book or hate it. We love to hate this book.
Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize winning Novel the God of Small things is often accused of being grand iloquent, pretentious and even anti-communist where its none of these things. The Novel, set in Ayemenem, Kerala explores casteism, hypocricy, love, loss and anguish through the intertwined lives of its rich characters, most notably the twins, Estha and Rahel.
Esthappen and Rahel thought of themselves together as Me, and separately, individually as We or Us. As though they were a rare breed of Siamese twins, physically separate, but with joint identities.
Now, these years later, Rahel has a memory of waking up one night giggling at Estha’s funny dream.
She has other memories too that she has no right to have.
The other characters are Ammu, their mother who commits the unpardonable sin of carrying on a liason with Velutha, an untouchable, whom Roy also refers to as ‘The God of loss’, Ammu’s scholarly Brother Chacko and his ex-wife Margaret, their daughter Sophie Mol, and Ammu’s mother, the repressed reprobate Baby Kochamma.
The plot is as intricate and multi-colored as stained glass and keeps shuffling back and forth between time brilliantly capturing the way the mind functions. The death of Sophie mol, the twin’s English cousin who makes a visit to Ayemenem with her Mother, Margaret Kochamma, ostracizes Estha, Rahel and their Mother from the Syrian catholic community and that is one of the things that gives to the story a sense of despondency and complete surrender to their tragic lives.
Roy’s language is poetic and witty ‘not young, not old, a via-ble die-able age’, and her treatment of the sorrows plaguing the lives of her characters is brutally incisive; There is no room for loose sentiment or langorous philosophising. Yet, there is an undercurrent of deep empathy and kindness and the plot is anything but dry. All this said, The God of small things is no doubt a difficult Novel and demands the complete attention of the reader. It doesn’t present life to you on a delicate platter but scalds you with its intensity. Sadly, the novel is as misunderstood as it is understated and although its been five years since I read it, there has been a dearth of readers with whom I could appreciate it.