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The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
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The God of Small Things (original 1997; edition 2010)

by Arundhati Roy

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14,673263135 (3.9)505
Member:jhowell
Title:The God of Small Things
Authors:Arundhati Roy
Info:Perfection Learning (2010), Hardcover, 333 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:literary fiction

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The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)

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Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
The God of Small Things I wasn't sure what to expect other than everyone raves about this author and I had to sit with it all a while to decide what I really felt about it. It's a powerful book and a little hard to read sometimes but also strangely beautiful. Trigger: death of a child. It's right in the first chapter that the girl dies at 9 years old, so I don't really consider it a spoiler. I know this isn't as common a trigger as say rape, but it's one of mine. Not everyone can stomach dead children in their pleasure reading. This is my first Read Harder 2017 book, it was the debut novel for Arundhati Roy. The writing is so beautiful that I was sucked in before I even knew what was going on. It was the way she described the twins right in the first five minutes of the audio. I did listen to it, which I don't recommend. The story shifts in time and the audio doesn't give good markers when the shift is happening. The other problem is that my copy (which came from the library and will make it into the hands of others so that's why this is really a problem) skipped sometimes. It was annoying but didn't make me not want to continue, just like when the deaths were mentioned there in the first five minutes of the 6 hours of audio. The reader, Sarita Choudhury, did a wonderful job. Since she is an established actress, though I didn't recognize her by name only face when I looked her up, one could hardly have expected less. The story itself is very uncomfortable to listen to but that doesn't lessen the experience. Sometimes we read difficult stories and it was especially trying as this was my audiobook while my print one was Burger’s Daughter, which is just as difficult for different reasons (it's about the antiapartheid movement in South Africa). The thing about it is that the story seems true to life. The moments come together in unexpected ways that mark the difference between punishment for one's actions and consequences for one's actions. Consequences can be so much harder because they can be so unexpected and so harsh sometimes. This is a book of consequences. As from the Goodreads blurb above from the book page, it's consequences for tampering with the love laws. I really loved the way the deliver included the "love laws". We see so much of this in lots of stories but it's not quite worded this way. There are consequences and sometimes they are things that characters can just deal with, and sometimes not tampering brings about the plot (looking at you, Wuthering Heights). The jumps in time aren't bad once I started to get a better feel for the rhythm, but I feel like I would have had some marker or something that would have suggested the shift and that would have made for an easier read. As it was, they made perfect sense within the story as it unraveled and we got to know the world everyone was living in. It may have just been backstory woven in as well, but the queues just weren't that obvious for me and I sometimes had to back up the story to figure out what I had missed. The characters were amazing, and not in that they're-all-good-people kind of way but more in the Gatsby way. No one is completely a good person (okay, I feel like one is but I won't tell you who). They are just people looking out for their interests individually and what the family does for them. Okay, the family part probably sounds harsh, but this is a complicated family that it doesn't seem like anyone wants to be a part of, so everyone is scrambling for some way to be themselves but can't do that on their own. You might think that they would work together because everyone gets further that way, but no. Because it's a true to life family and there is a lot of baggage here. Most of the baggage gets explained in the beginning though, which is part of how the back and forth in time or backstory confused me in the beginning. Everyone is at least a little broken and it all contributes to how they broke the love laws and why and how much. The pace is hard to describe because of the shifting time line and constant presence of backstory to different things. Don't get me wrong, all the backstory was 100% necessary and it moved in a fluid way. I think it's really the flow that messed me up sometimes because we would be with 30 year old Rahel and then young Rahel and wasn't sure where it happened. It moves along nicely, even though you know from the beginning where it's going. Except that it doesn't stop there and that was the point that I found especially horrifying and beautiful at the same time. I'm definitely going to continue reading Roy. Her style is just gorgeous. Seeing just the title of some of her other stories and how well this one read and having read some winners alongside her and recently, I wouldn't be surprised to find her on the Nobel Laureate list one day. As with the novels of those who have won, this was hard to read sometimes and harder to continue because of the pain it caused, but totally worth it. ( )
  Calavari | Jul 16, 2017 |
I came to this feast 20 years late, and it may take me twenty more to taste all that it has to offer. I don't know if at this point I have anything intelligent to say about the story - except that it seemed to me to capture as profoundly as anything I've read what it means to be human in all its horror and joy. Let me say a little about the experience of reading it. Several reviewers have said that as soon as they finished the book, they wanted immediately to read it through again. For me, that's not quite true. I may read it again, but the conclusion brought everything together so intensely that for now at least I don't feel the need or even desire to read it again. I feel that I want to, will have to, live with it for the rest of my life. ( )
  JFBallenger | Jul 7, 2017 |
A book I often go back to time and time again is The God of Small Things, which is essentially a story that begins with the end.

The vivid images that are realized through Roy's prose is unique in what it offers to the reader, the ability to fall into this world that she has created from parts of her own experiences growing up in Kerala. It is a melancholic story of loss that is interwoven with a sense of love that is both forbidden and hopeful due to its persistence. Roy presents the reader with a small fragment of the human experience, and yet she has captured a part of the whole that produced a definitive change in my own person. ( )
  Rakavi | Jul 5, 2017 |
"A few dozen hours can affect the outcomes of whole lifetimes...Little events...suddenly become the bleached bones of a story", 1 April 2017

This review is from: The God of Small Things (Paperback)
Set in Kerala, Southern India, in the 1970s and today, this is a totally original work. 31 year old Rahel is returning to her childhood home - to her aunt 'Baby' Kochamma and the twin brother she has not seen for many years.
From the first page the reader realises this is a work of masterful prose; Roy's descriptions bring the rank and humid village and its river to life.
"Outside the rain had stopped. The grey sky curdled and the clouds resolved themselves into little lumps like substandard mattress stuffing."

There is a childhood tragedy which somehow had lasting implications for the whole family, but this is only slowly revealed in all its detail, as the narrative shifts backwards and forwards. There are moments of great humour as we see the world through the eight-year-old twins' eyes; also of heartbreak, as their lives are ruined forever by an accident and by the malice of the adults around them.

Although it's masterly writing, maybe it leaves the reader more impressed than emotionally touched, but still a great novel. ( )
  starbox | Apr 1, 2017 |
The God of Small Things is exquisite. Arundhati Roy doesn’t just tell a story, her descriptions are so evocative that the words seem to pop off the pages and all the tastes, smells, sounds, suns and monsoon rains of India that run through her prose are tangible. This is a very clever book, in a non-pretentious way. The story is told through a non-linear narrative between 1969 and 1993 and spans four generations of a family. Twins Rahel and Estha are the main protagonists, (although the world is seen largely from Rahel’s perspective) We are told about two major events in chapter one that shape the entire story and by gaining this knowledge so early it creates a sense of dread that enormously impacts how this book is read. This is a tale of fate and how quickly innocence can be lost, how far reaching the things we say or don’t say can be, the impact of who we love or don’t love and how much or how little has on those around us, who we blame for our grief, who suffers the consequences of the actions of others and how the blameless end up becoming the blamed. I love this book, it’s beautiful, sad, witty and soulful. What it isn’t is a light read, it’s traumatic, graphic and so haunting that it will stay with you long after you have finished reading the final words of the last sentence. ( )
  FleurAngelineNixon | Feb 25, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
If Ms. Roy is sometimes overzealous in foreshadowing her characters' fate, resorting on occasion to darkly portentous clues, she proves remarkably adept at infusing her story with the inexorable momentum of tragedy. She writes near the beginning of the novel that in India, personal despair ''could never be desperate enough,'' that ''it was never important enough'' because ''worse things had happened'' and ''kept happening.'' Yet as rendered in this remarkable novel, the ''relative smallness'' of her characters' misfortunes remains both heartbreaking and indelible.
 

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roy, Arundhatiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lundborg, GunillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Never again will a single story be told as though it's the only one.

John Berger
Dedication
For Mary Roy, who grew me up. Who taught me to say "excuse me" before interrupting her in Public. Who loved me enough to let me go. For LKC, who, like me, survived.
First words
May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month.
Maj je v Ajemenemu vroč, morast mesec.
Quotations
"D'you know what happens when you hurt people? When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less."
"Just ignore her," Ammu said. "She's just trying to attract attention."

Ammu too was wrong. Rahel was trying to not attract the attention that she deserved.
Rahel looked around her and saw that she was in a Play. But she had only a small part.
She was just the landscape. A flower perhaps. Or a tree.
A face in the crowd. A Townspeople.
Heaven opened and the water hammered down, reviving the reluctant old well, greenmossing the pigless pigsty, carpet bombing still, tea-coloured puddles the way memory bombs still, tea-coloured minds.
Rahel drifted into marriage like a passenger drifts towards an unoccupied chair in an airport lounge. With a Sitting Down sense.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060977493, Paperback)

In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:37 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The story of an Indian family during the 1969 Communist disturbances in Kerala province. It is told through the eyes of a boy and his sister who are the children of a rich rubber planter. Politics, family drama, illicit love. A debut in fiction.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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