Book Review: The God Of Small Things

Nov 7, 2014 by     Comments Off on Book Review: The God Of Small Things    Posted under: Book Emporium, Hang Out

“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably.

They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic.”

― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Indian Society has always been the centre of attraction for many authors. A plethora of aesthetic customs and vivid rituals, the society is indeed a whole world in itself. From the spiritually enlightened dervishes posing dhamaals at the shrines of Ajmeer to the sensual Kathakalis depicting the stories on the banks of Kerala, it is truly a gleaming symbol on the face of cultural diversity.

Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’ is a masterpiece which highlights the tale of a Syrian-Christian family that has been enveloped by the ‘love laws that lay down who should be loved and by how much’. An emotional journey which shall engulf you in each page you turn, it elaborates the life and times of distinctly nurtured characters; which are an overwhelming evidence of the author’s imaginative power.

The fable narrates the past and present of Mammachi, an almost-blind matriarch who had been a victim of physical abuse at the hands of her husband; Baby Kochamma- Mammachi’s materialistic sister-in-law- who after facing betrayal from her first love denounces any compassion for anyone; and Chako, the Anglophile son with a smeared nuptial. But most important of all are Ammu and her two fraternal twin children, Estha (son) and Rahel (daughter); who face repercussions at hands of the family because of Ammu’s failed inter-Caste marriage.

The novel is a kaleidoscope of feelings and the reader is encroached with laughter and tears with each development of it. Especially the fraternal bond between the twins invites the readers to fall in love with them. Amidst the epic narrative, you discover that the book is not just a sad hymn of non-intimate love. In fact, it caresses the dark complexities surrounding the Keralite people. Caste System, Marxist political influences and social discrepancy governs a large part of the fiction.

This book is a multi-storyline concoction. There are poor workers at the family’s pickle factory who are being instigated by local communists to demand pay rises, and there is Chako flirting with ladies to complete the jigsaw of his ‘masculine desires’. There is Ammu fighting the tribulations of her distorted fate, and there are policemen harassing her. There is Estha losing his virginity at a tender age of nine, and there is Baby Kochamma spinning the sinister web of selfishness. There are hearty laughs of Sophie Mol (Chako’s daughter) and sad innocence of the twins.

However, in the deepest chambers of the novel, lies the tragic cacophony of two star-crossed lovers: One Touchable, the other Untouchable; and the asunder that society brings upon them.

Personally what I felt while I read and took in the brilliant work of hers, was simply uncanny. Not many authors have the power to captivate the readers within their literary charm, but Arundhati does so. Each sentence is so dense that the time around you stands still. And the beautiful blend of tragedy, hope and desperation she puts up in her work; is beyond words.

Written in a chronological style and studded with effulgent flashbacks, this book is an exemplary piece of literature. A story that tells a million stories, it is a delight for the readers that will keep them warm with its aura, long after they have absorbed the last sentence of it.

The Author

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