Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Thoughts: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This story unfolds before you, revealing a thing with a big mouth, which is going to swallow you and will only give you free after it thoroughly digested you and you digested all the things you saw in its inside. The story of Rahel and Estha, fraternal twins, is about the importance of small things, like the importance of a careless word or two. Because ...

"That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less."

That's what small things are all about, they trigger the big things. Arundhati Roy shares a big deal of wisdom with the reader. She lets it pass through Estha and Rahel's family. The two are only children but they will witness how live can change in less than a day, when their cousin Sophie Mol dies and their mother Ammu is accused of a love affair with Velutha, one of the untouchables.

Roy's language is magical but I was more impressed with her using her characters. The twins with all their childish innocence are meant to observe the harsh reality of the world and their own family's haunting tragedy. Velutha, the untouchable, actually has no personality of himself but serves as a screen on which the other characters could project their desires. Ammu is the center of the twins' world, when she goes down the twins go down with her. Like in the end, when they, now grown up, break the laws of love like their mother.

"But what was there to say?
Only that there were tears. Only that Quietness and Emptiness fitted together like stacked spoons. Only that there was a snuffling in the hollows at the base of a lovely throat. Only that a hard honey-colored shoulder had a semicircle of teethmarks on it. Only that they held each other close, long after it was over. Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief.
Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much."

I read reviews where readers complained about the non-constructiveness of Roy's description of misery. There would be no conclusion to it or at last no idea, out of which one could construct a conclusion. I don't think that is what this book is about. There are people living poor, miserable lives and unfortunately not everybody can be helped. But misery still can be the foundation of something beautiful, like it is the foundation of this book.

I read this book as part of my Booker Challenge.

5 stars and a heart!

1 comment:

  1. This was a book that took me a long time to get into and several tries to complete. That said, I remember finding it very powerful when I finished it. Much like A. S. Byatt's Possession; that book remains one of my favorite reads ever, and I must have begun it about eight times! It just shows you, you don't always know until you've finished a book how great it is.