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The God of Small Things (1997)

by Arundhati Roy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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17,411322206 (3.88)625
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.
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» See also 625 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 288 (next | show all)
I've always appreciated Arundhati Roy's articles about global politics, so I thought I'd give her debut novel (1997) a shot. Unfortunately, it was quite the disappointment. The novel centers around two twins, Rahel and her brother Estha, and their upper-class westernised Indian family. From the beginning you understand that something tragic happened and continue reading with the expectation of unfolding this mystery. Although relatively short, about 300 pages, this novel felt like reading a lengthy book with multiple characters and events that you'd need to note down to keep track of.
The narrative of the story is non-linear; it interweaves scenes from the past and the present, and without any warning. This would have been fine weren't it for the excessive descriptions and redundant metaphors which, in my opinion, seemed vague and void of any substantial meaning. Her attempts to narrate it from a child's perspective made it daunting to get through. The problem with this was also the fact I couldn't tell who's important enough in the unfolding events of the story. My memory can only work through a handful characters before it starts neglecting some.

Despite all of this, the novel felt colourful and vivid at times. Some of the characters grew on me eventually, yet I still felt there was no depth to any of them. The novel also addresses the caste system, patriarchy, the emergence of communism, and the search for a cultural identity through a juxtaposition of tradition and modernity.
( )
  meddz | Jun 11, 2021 |
I have no complaints with the book. It is one of my personal favorites now and that's it. The disjointed timeline, the ragged way in which everything was put afore us raw through the book, and the unique writing style, and the description of things to the point of realistic imagery: to me it was all part of the book's beauty.
Then comes a twist at the end of the book, incest between the twins. I do not, like many, support incest, on paper neither. However I'll have to speak honestly for this matter, the matter being: it was to a large extent predictable. Of course the story still had undeniably its share of creativity and thrill. I think whatever happened between them was psychologically acceptable because both of them, despite having spent their childhood together as actual siblings, it is an unavoidable fact that they spent most of their lives apart--gradually turning into strangers despite the blood-relation. I loved the twist as it showcased the depths of emotional and psychological effect society and family can have on people, in this case the twins. And well, there's more but I'm not a reviewer.
I loved the book because, like the name suggests, it offers insight into the minds of different kinds of people, their orthodox and stereotypes, and mentions the small things we often miss out or overlook. This book is the God of all the Small Things which find their mention somewhere or the other in it. The authoress does so along with upkeeping the unique fashion throughout the book, intriguing readers like me and giving a life experience regarding family and human psychology. On an ending note, I'd say that the only restraint I faced regarding the book would be the excessive and many-a-times unnecessary use of comparative ornamentation (comparison with like/as). ( )
  Aurorae | Jun 7, 2021 |
Almost a 4 star book, but the disjointed time line was distracting and frankly confusing. Hard to figure out *when* things were happening and was this before or after the action we just read about. ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
The writing in this book is absolutely gorgeous. It's one of those that I read and am awed that anyone could string words together in such an amazing way.

I wanted to love the story as much as I loved the writing, but I think this one wasn't for me. I found the story to be quite desolate, most of the adults were horrible, and the kids were victims. The bit of incest at the end didn't improve my opinion of the story. ( )
  ssperson | Apr 3, 2021 |
It's interesting that Roy said in an interview that she'd never read Rushdie when compared to him. In retrospect that makes sense. I'd been struggling with "The Moors Last Sigh" when a friend from India gave me this book. I didn't pick it up for a few months and then fell into it, doing little else for days while I read it. At first I found that hard to believe, because she plays with language in ways that I thought Rushdie did, but later I could see that the way he works language is radically different than how she did -- and I think I read a critique somewhere offering evidence of that that I can't remember now.

This was a gorgeous book. I wept for a long time after reading it. I find it interesting that Roy said she doubted she would write another novel. She's a fascinating person, dedicated to the sorts of thinking about the world that I only give lip service to. She's amazing. Still, I'd love a second book, but I don't think she will. She's moved on to something different. ( )
  wickenden | Mar 8, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 288 (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 (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roy, Arundhatiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grube, AnetteÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonkheer, ChristienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundborg, GunillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Never again will a single story be told as though it's the only one.

John Berger
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.
"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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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.

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