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Compared favorably to the works of Faulkner and Dickens, Arundhati Roy’s debut novel is a modern classic that has been read and loved worldwide. Equal parts powerful family saga, forbidden love story, and piercing political drama, it is the story of an affluent Indian family forever changed by one fateful day in 1969. The seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel see their world shaken irrevokably by the arrival of their beautiful young cousin, Sophie. It is an event that will lead to an illicit liaison and tragedies accidental and intentional, exposing “big things [that] lurk unsaid” in a country drifting dangerously toward unrest. Lush, lyrical, and unnerving, The God of Small Things is an award-winning landmark that started for its author an esteemed career of fiction and political commentary that continues unabated.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Dec 16, 2008
ISBN: 9781588367839
List price: $11.99
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I love the part where they describe Rahel's getting kicked out of school for smoking or bumping into seniors. Reminds me of Gwenyth Paltrow's character in Royal Tennenbaums, when they play "Judy is a Punk". The rest of the book, for the most part, is very heavy on the heart (in a good way).read more
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Rahel and Estha are ten-year-old Indian twins. When their English cousin comes to visit them, a series of unrelated events coalesces into a terrific tragedy that tears their family apart. Most of the book is told through the eyes of the children, with all the feelings and misinterpretations children have, giving the book a dreamy quality.read more
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What a strange book. Set in India, paternal twins are involved in the death o their cousin - something that affects them as adults. The story is told by jumping back and forth in time, from when the twins were only children to when they are thirty. That’s not so unusual - it’s a common tactic of novelists, but the author dribbles out the facts of the tragedy in small bits of premonition here and there. Here’s an example:He assumed, not without reason, that he would be the first in his family to follow in his mother’s wake. He would learn otherwise. Soon. Too soon.Which, of course, gets the reader thinking who the other members of the family are and why they might die. The author as narrator is giving us privileged information that only the author knows. She does this constantly, as a way of keeping the reader interested while she paints the picture of India and the lives of the children and the adults around them.It worked very well for me for about 200 pages - then I got impatient with it. Even near the end, when the reader has discovered most of what happened, the author still is digressing into the lives of peripheral characters when I just wanted the torture of not knowing what happened to be over.And yet, there is no single scene that describes the tragedy completely. It’s all told in bits and pieces, which ultimately detracted from the final pages for me.One thing the author can do very well is write from the viewpoint of a female child. She was perfect.read more
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A story pursuing love in all the wrong places which leads to a tragic death of a child, insanity of another, and loneliness of a third. A descriptive tale of a family from a small Indian village in which prejudice and expectations influence their pathway to true happiness. The implication of the book is declared simply in the statement: “anything can happen to anyone; it’s best to be prepared.”read more
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This book surely had made me realise of even the most small thing that we always seem to be ignorant about. Many times in this book i had to stop, think and go back to my experiences to see what i have missed and what small expressions of feeling I am not seeing in my everyday life... This for me explains about details we miss most of the time..read more
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“The God of Small Things” is Complex, Cryptic, and Artsy. It’s almost as if the author is trying too hard to be these things, at the detriment of her tale. Rahel and Estha are “two-egg” (fraternal) twins who live with their mother, uncle, grandmother and grand-aunt in Ayemanem, India. Their uncle, Chacko, has an ex-wife and daughter who live in England and come to Ayemanem to visit. At this same time, their mother, Ammu engages in some activity that threatens the way of life of everyone in their village. The story of this activity and the arrival and death of Rahel and Estha’s cousin Sophie Mol is revealed in bits and pieces, interspersed with accounts from the present day. None of the action is remotely chronological and is dribbled out to the reader in such a way that it is difficult to understand what any of these vignettes has to do with each other. Immediately upon finishing the book, I felt like I should go back and read the first few chapters again, just to see what it was they were talking about in the context of what all happened in the end of the book, but before these events chronologically. I didn’t, however, because the prospect of wading back through the cryptic descriptions and frequent dropping of Malayali words that are not ever translated was too daunting. It was beneficial to me to find a study guide for this book, written by some college professor, when doing a google search for Love-in-Tokyo which is an item frequently mentioned in the book, but never explained. You should know, if you ever plan to read this book, that a Love-in-Tokyo is a ponytail holding apparatus consisting of two beads attached to a rubber band. It figured prominently in a film that was apparently popular in India called “Love in Tokyo.” I was not able to find any reference to a Love-in-Tokyo as a hair band in anything besides commentary on this book. I can’t really tell if the plot or characterizations or descriptions of life in India in the 1960’s would be more valuable if the tale were told without all the cryptic crap, and in a chronological order, but I do know that I didn’t really enjoy reading this book. It might have been better if I had read it for a class and participated in discussions, but as a pleasure-book, it certainly was not at all pleasurable reading.read more
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An excellent flowing writing style, but again, like the Fuentes I've just read, it seems to wander a bit too much. It is a bit bleak - but I'm not complaining about that - just a bit wandering and 'fluffed up'. I'm not sure. I'll try again later if I have the time.read more
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All in all a difficult book. I started reading this ten years ago and was stymied by the leaps back and forth in time. These are not alwys obvious and the reader seems to eventually come to the conclusion of where one is chronologically. The prose is beautifully written and descriptions given in a most unique manner. The feeling of the oppressive heat is cetainly there. It is not a happy story by any stretch of the imagination and indeed the culmination of the story although broadly hinted at throughout does not come out until the end. It's a book to read if you can cope with serious amounts of descriptive writing, baffling dialogue and more time-flucuations than an episode of Doctor Who.read more
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i'd give this more than 5 stars. it's language is like the coolest water flowing over you. it is so beautiful when it needs to be. so mild and genuine and there's the twins and the river and the car ride. and everything. just everything. some are fed up with her language. i want seconds and thirds. “dark blood spilling from his skull like a secret” “strange insects appeared like ideas in the evening” “Rahel tried to say something. It came out jagged, like a piece of tin” strange, side-stepping metaphors.read more
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This is a beautifully written book, but in many ways, I think the writing overtakes the story. The author is rather heavy-handed in making themes known (and appreciated), and the characters and story-line often seem to play second string to the author's intentions because of this tendency. At times, the author's hand was far more believable than the characters or actions portrayed, and while this was rarely a problem, when it did come up it was clear that Roy was simply too intent on arguing a point or theme, as opposed to creating a work of art or imagination. Things, often, were simply pushed too far. Similarly, some 'minor' traumas were presented, apparently, simply as points of comparison beside larger ones, but character reactions to these lesser traumas ranged from being unbelievable to being unbelievably non-existent. Simply, the conception of the work was often too heavy-handed for my taste, and whil the writing was beautifuf and the execution graceful, the work as a whole left me fairly untouched because I wasn't ever able to forget the author's careful background manipulations. I recommend the book for it's writing (though I'd argue it would have been stronger if a hundred pages shorter), but it can't be called an escape in any respect.read more
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Have you ever had a dream in which everything was almost too real, you could not quite believe it when you have to wake up?That was exactly how I would describe this book. The narration is startlingly vivid, that I can almost say I was with Rahel and Estha the whole time, crossing the river with them, listening to them make plans in the pickle factory, carrying their boat above our heads. Albeit slow, the story builds up to paint a big picture from the seemingly small things that the twins and their family encounter. Every single event is explored, every minute detail a metaphor. The writing draws a fine line between the well-drawn and the verbose. It was like gossiping with housewives - telling you a story in a non-linear way with exhausting description, that you always end up asking them to hurry up already and get to the juicy parts, only realizing that to fully appreciate the punchline, every inch of the story has to be exposed.But unlike gossiping housewives, the author exhibits finesse and intelligence with the way she dealt with the story. Seen through the eyes of the young two-egg twins, their childish wisdom demonstrates an innocent, but not oversimplified, view of themselves, their family and their home. The author provides a credible portrait of two children amidst familial and social struggles that cause them to grow up unspeaking (Estha) and unfeeling (Rahel).Each character's personalities are also very well-accounted for, that one can empathize with Ammu's plight, laugh at Chacko's quirks, and loathe Baby Kochamma with alarming intensity. Aided with realistic imagery, not just once did I find myself touching my feet at the mention of Baby Kochamma's edematous ones, disgust at the OrangedrinkLemondrink man; I even found myself singing with Estha while inside the Abhilash Talkies. They were almost real I expected a crowd to shush me when I sang.From my point of view, this is a rediscovery of the trauma that the twins suffered while growing up, and they remembered it through the small things seemingly insignificant, but grew to be the cornerstone of their pain. The pain that in the self-centeredness of childhood, they claimed to be their doing, but with the passing time and the maturity of their minds, they understood that it was not their fault, and they were given their chance to grieve for their loss. Although some would object at the turn of events in the end, I myself could not complain, especially as I am not the one keeping the 'Love Laws,' "That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much."read more
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Arundhati Roy's family live in the southern Indian state of Karela where this book is based. It is a place of waterways, lakes, and rivers in semi tropical countryside but with the press of humanity never very far away. Back in the 1970's I spent six months travelling round India and Karela was one of my favorite places and so reading this excellent novel brought back huge memories for me. The story is told in fractured time-spans. The reader is aware from early on that this is a tragic tale of a family who have been destroyed by events that have spiralled out of their control. Everyone is damaged. Nobody can escape their fate and it is fate that is the real star of this book. Politics, the caste system, family rivalries, the striving to get ahead all serve to bend and break Roy's characters as they struggle against their destiny. This is no melodrama but a tragedy that reverberates and encompasses a country and people that are fighting to come to terms with the modern worldRoy's story is told in a magnificent prose style that for much of the time reads like poetry, but with an impish and very Indian wordplay that kept surprising me with its wit and playfulness. Estha one of the twins central to the story has been so traumatised by events that he refuses to speak and Roy brilliantly evokes his state of mind comparing it with the brooding landscape by her use of alliteration:"Once the quietness arrived it stayed and spread in Estha. It reached out of his head and enfolded him in its swampy arms..... it sent its stealthy, suckered tentacles inching along the insides of his skull, hoovering the knolls and dells of his memory."Fine writing indeed and then we have examples of typical Indian notices and public signs, this is seen in the airport carpark:"For V D Sex Complaints contact Dr O. K. Joy"The brutal police are described as "Hairy fairies with lethal wands" and the sign in the police station says:PolitenessObedienceLoyaltyIntelligenceCourtesyEfficiencyThere is so much to enjoy in this powerful intelligent novelread more
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Excellently intertwined story with plots about forbidden loves, childhood independence, the caste system and politics of India. The story lets you know from the start that there is a tragedy to be told and then layers this with passages that span some 20 years of what happened to a family in southwest India. Very well written. Nice summary from the NY times: The God of Small Things heralds a voice so powerful and original that it burns itself into the reader's memory. Set mainly in Kerala, India, in 1969, it is the story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha, who learn that their whole world can change in a single day, that love and life can be lost in a moment. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they seek to craft a childhood for themselves amid the wreckage that constitutes their family. Sweet and heartbreaking, ribald and profound, this is a novel to set beside those of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.read more
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I really didn't think I was going to like this after the first few pages. I had to read them a few times just to get my bearings. Once I was through the first twenty or so, I was off and running, however, and I'm glad I persevered. This is a clevery written book, which keeps its secrets right to the end, past and present narratives converging on a single traumatic event in the lives of the characters. Some beautiful, poetic text, helps with the journey. I'm not sure whether I appreciated all the subteties of the story,though, or what goes on between the twins right at the end.read more
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So intricately woven is this book, that one gets caught in the complexity of human emotions and fears. On one side, where you have young innocent minds arrested between the thoughts of an absent father, always over-bearing elders, a mother who clearly loved them but was caught up in her own complex world, but more so, they were perhaps, silently amused by their own connection. On the other hand, you had a mother, who single-handedly bore the brunt of all her youthful mistakes, took the jibes in her stride, who was charmed by her twins’ playfulness, who could barely suppress the emotions in her heart that threatened to transcend the societal distinctions. Arundhati Roy, very effectively and poignantly braids a story that surpasses all the barriers created by the public and otherwise. When once done with the last page of the book, you find you mind and heart, alike, lingering back in the deepest recesses of the human mind that the book has to offer.In brief, the book transcends back and forth in the past and present and is based in the *hot, brooding* Ayemenem area set in Kerala. It talks of a pair of fraternal twins, Rahel and Estha, who are separated at the age of seven and reunited when they are 31. The book is written from the point of view of the children and tackles the issues of communism, caste and the Keralite christianity, as seen through their eyes. The book, at large, is benignant to the emotions of the twins, as they suffer indifference at the hands of their relatives, owing to their Ammu’s (mother) and Baba’s (father) separation and also due to their friendly encounters with Velutha, their helper and also an untouchable. The primary theme of the book is love. The love Ammu bears for her twins, though she knows that times are to get difficult and she will have to forgo with one of them. The love that silently brews between Ammu and Velutha, which is clearly forbidden. In the abeyance of the silent nights, the beating hearts often looked for a gateway to be one. Arundhati roy has also mentioned the political realities in India, through satirical snippets. She is also critical of the traditional hypocrisy of Ammu’s parents.The novel also brings to light the forbidden love that grows between the twins, Rahel and Estha. As twins, they always stood connected in a silent, unassertive way. When they re-unite after years of separation at the age of 31, wherein both have grown up to be silent, pained souls, it is perhaps their silence that speaks for them. In the end, it shows their love culminating into incest, which is forbidden love, alright.The beauty of Kerala, plays an important character in the book as well, as Arundhati Roy often draws her childhood memories of the place to create situations. As it shows in these lines..“May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled by the sun.The nights are clear, but suffuse with sloth and sullen expectation.”All In all, it was a Booker Prize well deserved.–Meher Manda[This post was first published on Meher's Blog & HappyReading Blog]read more
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A beautifully written book. The prose and narrative style owe a great deal to Rushdie, but then it would be impossible to write a book about India with magical realist elements and not allude stylistically to Rushdie. Still, Roy has a voice that is distinctly her own and a playful, almost Nabokovian view of language.read more
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The God of Small Things is the tale of twins whose lives are ruined by tragedy. The narrative travels in time and tells the story of many of the family members. It is filled with amazing use of language and wordplay. As an American, the setting feels accurately and specifically Indian while also purely human. Overall, I found this book to be a haunting story of the pain of love. At the same time, I did not get as invested in the characters as I like to when reading a novel. Sometimes the author’s word-riffs got in the way of the plot for me, but, overall, her gift with language was beautiful to read.read more
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Yep, it's time. I can't continue anymore. It feels too much like a struggle. I don't want to waste my time with books that make reading miserable. The only thing that kept me trying to finish it was the impression that something amazing was awaiting me in the book. As I've heard great things about it, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't miss them. But alas, it's not worth it anymore. I'm saying goodbye to this book. If you want to know, Roy's writing is exceptional. It's very beautiful. Let me repeat that, it's VERY BEAUTIFUL. However, that isn't much of a reason for me to keep reading it. The story bores me. It literally puts to me sleep every 2 sentences. Not to mention the fact that I couldn't care less about any of the characters. I'm glad to get rid of it. I'm sorry Mr Andrew. Thank you for lending it to me nevertheless.read more
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I was very excited when I began this book, entranced by Roy's ability to craft a beautiful sentence and vivid snapshots of key moments. The book begins with sequences of these snapshots scattered between a fragmentary narrative about the main character Rahel's return to her childhood hometown as a 30-year-old; scenes from her memory are scattered before us, and characters in the drama are introduced and given peremptory backstories in disorderly and sometimes overwhelming, non-chronological procession. While this strategy seems common for the opening scenes of a novel, and since the prose was so delectable, I worked past my confusion and continued through to the end of chapter 4, by which time I realized that this storytelling strategy had been no introductory "hook" but the structural pattern of the entire novel. It is as if Roy has written an entire novel using a storytelling style better-suited to a short-story. I don't mind a mixed-chronology in a narrative, but the deviation from linear chronology must be clearly-patterned for me to enjoy the book--I prefer not to have to piece puzzles of the story together in quite so thorough a fashion. It would have worked to use this fragmented pattern to explicate the moments depicting Rahel's childhood memories, since memories often are fragmented, non-linear, fraught with sensory detail over the rigors of narrative, but to tell even the characters' present in this style simply gives the mind too little to hang on. As a result, I felt "outside" the story throughout; I prefer to be absorbed into novels and escape into them. If you like the challenge of constructing the story yourself from randomly-presented pieces, you will enjoy this novel. As I say, her prose is simply beautiful and the ultimate story that you piece together does have power. You may also enjoy the framework of commentary about English colonialism in India. But I think it is not the novel for escapists like myself.read more
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A beautifully told story of life in rural India. Deals with the inequities of the caste system. Leaves the reader with a sense of emptiness. A somewhat dark story.read more
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This is a book of remarkable contrasts. It contains some of the most moving and beautifully written passages that I have read in quite awhile, but it also tells a heart-breaking story in which not one single character emerges unscathed by the events. Rahel and Estha are fraternal twins growing up in the Kerala state of India. Their world is torn apart at the age of seven when their cousin Sophie Mol, visiting from England after the death of her step-father, dies tragically but quite accidentally. The twins are manipulated into helping implicate Velutha, an “untouchable” who has been having an affair with their mother Ammu, in Sophie Mol’s accident. They observe the police brutally murder Velutha—for violating the rigid caste system more than anything else—and Ammu sent away in disgrace to protect the family’s social standing. Rahel and Estha never really recover from these traumas, as we learn from the sad way in which they reunite 24 years later. This novel, which won the Booker Prize in 1997, is justifiably renown throughout the world but not without its flaws. It is over-written in parts and the author’s use of foreshadowing—we know the fates of both Sophie Mol and Ammu shortly after the book begins—can be distracting. Nevertheless, Roy has created a compelling and unforgettable world in which themes such as politics, social structures and discrimination, and the nature of love are woven together brilliantly. She definitely has captured the mood and spirit of a time and place that are foreign to most of us and I enjoyed experiencing that world for a little while.read more
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Now I'm inside The God of Small Things which isn't word perfect at all but is nevertheless compulsive reading. Arundhati Roy is adventurous in her use of language, wild about alliteration and almost anything which has a trace of rhyme about it. Dark and original imagery underlines the author's faith in her readers. This is a novel I've looked forward to for a long time and so far it's not disappointing.read more
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Didn't like it at all...mediocre.read more
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Mind blowing. Upon first reading as a study with Sixth Form, I struggled to get past the first 100 pages, however, after beginning the novel again, I was unable to put it down. The beauty of the novel is that it is so complex, however once the concepts are grasped, it makes a compelling read. Roy's style flows wonderfully through the chapters, despite the fact that it isn't written in chronological order.'The God of Small Things'is definitely worth a read, and I'd recommend it to anybody, without hesitation.read more
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This book contains some of the most beautiful prose ever written in the English language. Roy invents a phrase and then nuances and informs it until it attains the sort of power usually held by religious language and poetry. After I read this book, I read it twice more. Also, it made me cry. I wish she would write another book for me to read.read more
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An elegant story of two children caught in the middle of family strife and the Indian caste system who get a brutal reminder of their inability to escape.read more
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I am so thankful I got to read this book. Roy is a stunning author who plays wonderfully with her words, which she calls the "graphic design of language." All her descriptions and the words that she chooses to use are unique and memorable. Beyond that, the story is poignant, heartbreaking, and will incite you to tears of hopelessness and yells of fury, all the while sticking with you. Highly recommended.read more
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An incredible ballad on humanity. People actually complain that a book is "too" sad?.Isn't that the best part of it?.The best book I've ever read. Its beyond reviews.read more
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Fraternal twins, "crime", passion, death, and caste systems.This book was eloquent, go read it.read more
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I really wanted to like this one. In fact, when I started the book and it was incredibly slow going, I decided that no matter what, I was sticking with it to the end. At times it felt like I was trying to run on a beach, the faster I tried to read the more exhausting it was. The book is set in India and tells the story of a set of twins, one male, one female and their complicated family. My problem with the book lies mainly with the structure. It jumps back and forth in the timeline with no real warning. First we learn about the twins as adults, then as kids, then about their mother’s life as a young woman, then about her relative’s childhood, etc. It’s hard to follow where you’re at in the tale and whose story is being told if you have to pick it up and put it down a lot. The names made it more difficult as well, though that’s not the author’s fault. I wasn’t sure whether some of the names, like Aleyooty Ammachi, Velutha and Estha, were masculine or feminine at first. I figured it out quickly, but it was one more element to juggle. The novel feels incredibly ambitious. It deals with India’s political climate, the caste system, cultural and ethical taboos, molestation, religion, family dynamics, incest, guilt. I feel like it might have been more powerful if the story was a bit more focused on a smaller number of issues. I will say that my favorite part of the book was the descriptive passages. The author has a beautiful way of phrasing things….“Margaret Kochmma’s tiny ordered life relinquished itself to this truly baroque bedlam with the quiet gap of warm body entering a chilly sea.”…but that beauty wasn’t enough to make it work for me. I’d love to hear someone’s opinion on this one that’s familiar with Indian culture. I wonder if some aspects would have worked better for me if I knew the culture better.  read more
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I love the part where they describe Rahel's getting kicked out of school for smoking or bumping into seniors. Reminds me of Gwenyth Paltrow's character in Royal Tennenbaums, when they play "Judy is a Punk". The rest of the book, for the most part, is very heavy on the heart (in a good way).
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Rahel and Estha are ten-year-old Indian twins. When their English cousin comes to visit them, a series of unrelated events coalesces into a terrific tragedy that tears their family apart. Most of the book is told through the eyes of the children, with all the feelings and misinterpretations children have, giving the book a dreamy quality.
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What a strange book. Set in India, paternal twins are involved in the death o their cousin - something that affects them as adults. The story is told by jumping back and forth in time, from when the twins were only children to when they are thirty. That’s not so unusual - it’s a common tactic of novelists, but the author dribbles out the facts of the tragedy in small bits of premonition here and there. Here’s an example:He assumed, not without reason, that he would be the first in his family to follow in his mother’s wake. He would learn otherwise. Soon. Too soon.Which, of course, gets the reader thinking who the other members of the family are and why they might die. The author as narrator is giving us privileged information that only the author knows. She does this constantly, as a way of keeping the reader interested while she paints the picture of India and the lives of the children and the adults around them.It worked very well for me for about 200 pages - then I got impatient with it. Even near the end, when the reader has discovered most of what happened, the author still is digressing into the lives of peripheral characters when I just wanted the torture of not knowing what happened to be over.And yet, there is no single scene that describes the tragedy completely. It’s all told in bits and pieces, which ultimately detracted from the final pages for me.One thing the author can do very well is write from the viewpoint of a female child. She was perfect.
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A story pursuing love in all the wrong places which leads to a tragic death of a child, insanity of another, and loneliness of a third. A descriptive tale of a family from a small Indian village in which prejudice and expectations influence their pathway to true happiness. The implication of the book is declared simply in the statement: “anything can happen to anyone; it’s best to be prepared.”
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This book surely had made me realise of even the most small thing that we always seem to be ignorant about. Many times in this book i had to stop, think and go back to my experiences to see what i have missed and what small expressions of feeling I am not seeing in my everyday life... This for me explains about details we miss most of the time..
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“The God of Small Things” is Complex, Cryptic, and Artsy. It’s almost as if the author is trying too hard to be these things, at the detriment of her tale. Rahel and Estha are “two-egg” (fraternal) twins who live with their mother, uncle, grandmother and grand-aunt in Ayemanem, India. Their uncle, Chacko, has an ex-wife and daughter who live in England and come to Ayemanem to visit. At this same time, their mother, Ammu engages in some activity that threatens the way of life of everyone in their village. The story of this activity and the arrival and death of Rahel and Estha’s cousin Sophie Mol is revealed in bits and pieces, interspersed with accounts from the present day. None of the action is remotely chronological and is dribbled out to the reader in such a way that it is difficult to understand what any of these vignettes has to do with each other. Immediately upon finishing the book, I felt like I should go back and read the first few chapters again, just to see what it was they were talking about in the context of what all happened in the end of the book, but before these events chronologically. I didn’t, however, because the prospect of wading back through the cryptic descriptions and frequent dropping of Malayali words that are not ever translated was too daunting. It was beneficial to me to find a study guide for this book, written by some college professor, when doing a google search for Love-in-Tokyo which is an item frequently mentioned in the book, but never explained. You should know, if you ever plan to read this book, that a Love-in-Tokyo is a ponytail holding apparatus consisting of two beads attached to a rubber band. It figured prominently in a film that was apparently popular in India called “Love in Tokyo.” I was not able to find any reference to a Love-in-Tokyo as a hair band in anything besides commentary on this book. I can’t really tell if the plot or characterizations or descriptions of life in India in the 1960’s would be more valuable if the tale were told without all the cryptic crap, and in a chronological order, but I do know that I didn’t really enjoy reading this book. It might have been better if I had read it for a class and participated in discussions, but as a pleasure-book, it certainly was not at all pleasurable reading.
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An excellent flowing writing style, but again, like the Fuentes I've just read, it seems to wander a bit too much. It is a bit bleak - but I'm not complaining about that - just a bit wandering and 'fluffed up'. I'm not sure. I'll try again later if I have the time.
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All in all a difficult book. I started reading this ten years ago and was stymied by the leaps back and forth in time. These are not alwys obvious and the reader seems to eventually come to the conclusion of where one is chronologically. The prose is beautifully written and descriptions given in a most unique manner. The feeling of the oppressive heat is cetainly there. It is not a happy story by any stretch of the imagination and indeed the culmination of the story although broadly hinted at throughout does not come out until the end. It's a book to read if you can cope with serious amounts of descriptive writing, baffling dialogue and more time-flucuations than an episode of Doctor Who.
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i'd give this more than 5 stars. it's language is like the coolest water flowing over you. it is so beautiful when it needs to be. so mild and genuine and there's the twins and the river and the car ride. and everything. just everything. some are fed up with her language. i want seconds and thirds. “dark blood spilling from his skull like a secret” “strange insects appeared like ideas in the evening” “Rahel tried to say something. It came out jagged, like a piece of tin” strange, side-stepping metaphors.
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This is a beautifully written book, but in many ways, I think the writing overtakes the story. The author is rather heavy-handed in making themes known (and appreciated), and the characters and story-line often seem to play second string to the author's intentions because of this tendency. At times, the author's hand was far more believable than the characters or actions portrayed, and while this was rarely a problem, when it did come up it was clear that Roy was simply too intent on arguing a point or theme, as opposed to creating a work of art or imagination. Things, often, were simply pushed too far. Similarly, some 'minor' traumas were presented, apparently, simply as points of comparison beside larger ones, but character reactions to these lesser traumas ranged from being unbelievable to being unbelievably non-existent. Simply, the conception of the work was often too heavy-handed for my taste, and whil the writing was beautifuf and the execution graceful, the work as a whole left me fairly untouched because I wasn't ever able to forget the author's careful background manipulations. I recommend the book for it's writing (though I'd argue it would have been stronger if a hundred pages shorter), but it can't be called an escape in any respect.
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Have you ever had a dream in which everything was almost too real, you could not quite believe it when you have to wake up?That was exactly how I would describe this book. The narration is startlingly vivid, that I can almost say I was with Rahel and Estha the whole time, crossing the river with them, listening to them make plans in the pickle factory, carrying their boat above our heads. Albeit slow, the story builds up to paint a big picture from the seemingly small things that the twins and their family encounter. Every single event is explored, every minute detail a metaphor. The writing draws a fine line between the well-drawn and the verbose. It was like gossiping with housewives - telling you a story in a non-linear way with exhausting description, that you always end up asking them to hurry up already and get to the juicy parts, only realizing that to fully appreciate the punchline, every inch of the story has to be exposed.But unlike gossiping housewives, the author exhibits finesse and intelligence with the way she dealt with the story. Seen through the eyes of the young two-egg twins, their childish wisdom demonstrates an innocent, but not oversimplified, view of themselves, their family and their home. The author provides a credible portrait of two children amidst familial and social struggles that cause them to grow up unspeaking (Estha) and unfeeling (Rahel).Each character's personalities are also very well-accounted for, that one can empathize with Ammu's plight, laugh at Chacko's quirks, and loathe Baby Kochamma with alarming intensity. Aided with realistic imagery, not just once did I find myself touching my feet at the mention of Baby Kochamma's edematous ones, disgust at the OrangedrinkLemondrink man; I even found myself singing with Estha while inside the Abhilash Talkies. They were almost real I expected a crowd to shush me when I sang.From my point of view, this is a rediscovery of the trauma that the twins suffered while growing up, and they remembered it through the small things seemingly insignificant, but grew to be the cornerstone of their pain. The pain that in the self-centeredness of childhood, they claimed to be their doing, but with the passing time and the maturity of their minds, they understood that it was not their fault, and they were given their chance to grieve for their loss. Although some would object at the turn of events in the end, I myself could not complain, especially as I am not the one keeping the 'Love Laws,' "That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much."
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Arundhati Roy's family live in the southern Indian state of Karela where this book is based. It is a place of waterways, lakes, and rivers in semi tropical countryside but with the press of humanity never very far away. Back in the 1970's I spent six months travelling round India and Karela was one of my favorite places and so reading this excellent novel brought back huge memories for me. The story is told in fractured time-spans. The reader is aware from early on that this is a tragic tale of a family who have been destroyed by events that have spiralled out of their control. Everyone is damaged. Nobody can escape their fate and it is fate that is the real star of this book. Politics, the caste system, family rivalries, the striving to get ahead all serve to bend and break Roy's characters as they struggle against their destiny. This is no melodrama but a tragedy that reverberates and encompasses a country and people that are fighting to come to terms with the modern worldRoy's story is told in a magnificent prose style that for much of the time reads like poetry, but with an impish and very Indian wordplay that kept surprising me with its wit and playfulness. Estha one of the twins central to the story has been so traumatised by events that he refuses to speak and Roy brilliantly evokes his state of mind comparing it with the brooding landscape by her use of alliteration:"Once the quietness arrived it stayed and spread in Estha. It reached out of his head and enfolded him in its swampy arms..... it sent its stealthy, suckered tentacles inching along the insides of his skull, hoovering the knolls and dells of his memory."Fine writing indeed and then we have examples of typical Indian notices and public signs, this is seen in the airport carpark:"For V D Sex Complaints contact Dr O. K. Joy"The brutal police are described as "Hairy fairies with lethal wands" and the sign in the police station says:PolitenessObedienceLoyaltyIntelligenceCourtesyEfficiencyThere is so much to enjoy in this powerful intelligent novel
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Excellently intertwined story with plots about forbidden loves, childhood independence, the caste system and politics of India. The story lets you know from the start that there is a tragedy to be told and then layers this with passages that span some 20 years of what happened to a family in southwest India. Very well written. Nice summary from the NY times: The God of Small Things heralds a voice so powerful and original that it burns itself into the reader's memory. Set mainly in Kerala, India, in 1969, it is the story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha, who learn that their whole world can change in a single day, that love and life can be lost in a moment. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they seek to craft a childhood for themselves amid the wreckage that constitutes their family. Sweet and heartbreaking, ribald and profound, this is a novel to set beside those of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
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I really didn't think I was going to like this after the first few pages. I had to read them a few times just to get my bearings. Once I was through the first twenty or so, I was off and running, however, and I'm glad I persevered. This is a clevery written book, which keeps its secrets right to the end, past and present narratives converging on a single traumatic event in the lives of the characters. Some beautiful, poetic text, helps with the journey. I'm not sure whether I appreciated all the subteties of the story,though, or what goes on between the twins right at the end.
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So intricately woven is this book, that one gets caught in the complexity of human emotions and fears. On one side, where you have young innocent minds arrested between the thoughts of an absent father, always over-bearing elders, a mother who clearly loved them but was caught up in her own complex world, but more so, they were perhaps, silently amused by their own connection. On the other hand, you had a mother, who single-handedly bore the brunt of all her youthful mistakes, took the jibes in her stride, who was charmed by her twins’ playfulness, who could barely suppress the emotions in her heart that threatened to transcend the societal distinctions. Arundhati Roy, very effectively and poignantly braids a story that surpasses all the barriers created by the public and otherwise. When once done with the last page of the book, you find you mind and heart, alike, lingering back in the deepest recesses of the human mind that the book has to offer.In brief, the book transcends back and forth in the past and present and is based in the *hot, brooding* Ayemenem area set in Kerala. It talks of a pair of fraternal twins, Rahel and Estha, who are separated at the age of seven and reunited when they are 31. The book is written from the point of view of the children and tackles the issues of communism, caste and the Keralite christianity, as seen through their eyes. The book, at large, is benignant to the emotions of the twins, as they suffer indifference at the hands of their relatives, owing to their Ammu’s (mother) and Baba’s (father) separation and also due to their friendly encounters with Velutha, their helper and also an untouchable. The primary theme of the book is love. The love Ammu bears for her twins, though she knows that times are to get difficult and she will have to forgo with one of them. The love that silently brews between Ammu and Velutha, which is clearly forbidden. In the abeyance of the silent nights, the beating hearts often looked for a gateway to be one. Arundhati roy has also mentioned the political realities in India, through satirical snippets. She is also critical of the traditional hypocrisy of Ammu’s parents.The novel also brings to light the forbidden love that grows between the twins, Rahel and Estha. As twins, they always stood connected in a silent, unassertive way. When they re-unite after years of separation at the age of 31, wherein both have grown up to be silent, pained souls, it is perhaps their silence that speaks for them. In the end, it shows their love culminating into incest, which is forbidden love, alright.The beauty of Kerala, plays an important character in the book as well, as Arundhati Roy often draws her childhood memories of the place to create situations. As it shows in these lines..“May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled by the sun.The nights are clear, but suffuse with sloth and sullen expectation.”All In all, it was a Booker Prize well deserved.–Meher Manda[This post was first published on Meher's Blog & HappyReading Blog]
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A beautifully written book. The prose and narrative style owe a great deal to Rushdie, but then it would be impossible to write a book about India with magical realist elements and not allude stylistically to Rushdie. Still, Roy has a voice that is distinctly her own and a playful, almost Nabokovian view of language.
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The God of Small Things is the tale of twins whose lives are ruined by tragedy. The narrative travels in time and tells the story of many of the family members. It is filled with amazing use of language and wordplay. As an American, the setting feels accurately and specifically Indian while also purely human. Overall, I found this book to be a haunting story of the pain of love. At the same time, I did not get as invested in the characters as I like to when reading a novel. Sometimes the author’s word-riffs got in the way of the plot for me, but, overall, her gift with language was beautiful to read.
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Yep, it's time. I can't continue anymore. It feels too much like a struggle. I don't want to waste my time with books that make reading miserable. The only thing that kept me trying to finish it was the impression that something amazing was awaiting me in the book. As I've heard great things about it, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't miss them. But alas, it's not worth it anymore. I'm saying goodbye to this book. If you want to know, Roy's writing is exceptional. It's very beautiful. Let me repeat that, it's VERY BEAUTIFUL. However, that isn't much of a reason for me to keep reading it. The story bores me. It literally puts to me sleep every 2 sentences. Not to mention the fact that I couldn't care less about any of the characters. I'm glad to get rid of it. I'm sorry Mr Andrew. Thank you for lending it to me nevertheless.
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I was very excited when I began this book, entranced by Roy's ability to craft a beautiful sentence and vivid snapshots of key moments. The book begins with sequences of these snapshots scattered between a fragmentary narrative about the main character Rahel's return to her childhood hometown as a 30-year-old; scenes from her memory are scattered before us, and characters in the drama are introduced and given peremptory backstories in disorderly and sometimes overwhelming, non-chronological procession. While this strategy seems common for the opening scenes of a novel, and since the prose was so delectable, I worked past my confusion and continued through to the end of chapter 4, by which time I realized that this storytelling strategy had been no introductory "hook" but the structural pattern of the entire novel. It is as if Roy has written an entire novel using a storytelling style better-suited to a short-story. I don't mind a mixed-chronology in a narrative, but the deviation from linear chronology must be clearly-patterned for me to enjoy the book--I prefer not to have to piece puzzles of the story together in quite so thorough a fashion. It would have worked to use this fragmented pattern to explicate the moments depicting Rahel's childhood memories, since memories often are fragmented, non-linear, fraught with sensory detail over the rigors of narrative, but to tell even the characters' present in this style simply gives the mind too little to hang on. As a result, I felt "outside" the story throughout; I prefer to be absorbed into novels and escape into them. If you like the challenge of constructing the story yourself from randomly-presented pieces, you will enjoy this novel. As I say, her prose is simply beautiful and the ultimate story that you piece together does have power. You may also enjoy the framework of commentary about English colonialism in India. But I think it is not the novel for escapists like myself.
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A beautifully told story of life in rural India. Deals with the inequities of the caste system. Leaves the reader with a sense of emptiness. A somewhat dark story.
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This is a book of remarkable contrasts. It contains some of the most moving and beautifully written passages that I have read in quite awhile, but it also tells a heart-breaking story in which not one single character emerges unscathed by the events. Rahel and Estha are fraternal twins growing up in the Kerala state of India. Their world is torn apart at the age of seven when their cousin Sophie Mol, visiting from England after the death of her step-father, dies tragically but quite accidentally. The twins are manipulated into helping implicate Velutha, an “untouchable” who has been having an affair with their mother Ammu, in Sophie Mol’s accident. They observe the police brutally murder Velutha—for violating the rigid caste system more than anything else—and Ammu sent away in disgrace to protect the family’s social standing. Rahel and Estha never really recover from these traumas, as we learn from the sad way in which they reunite 24 years later. This novel, which won the Booker Prize in 1997, is justifiably renown throughout the world but not without its flaws. It is over-written in parts and the author’s use of foreshadowing—we know the fates of both Sophie Mol and Ammu shortly after the book begins—can be distracting. Nevertheless, Roy has created a compelling and unforgettable world in which themes such as politics, social structures and discrimination, and the nature of love are woven together brilliantly. She definitely has captured the mood and spirit of a time and place that are foreign to most of us and I enjoyed experiencing that world for a little while.
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Now I'm inside The God of Small Things which isn't word perfect at all but is nevertheless compulsive reading. Arundhati Roy is adventurous in her use of language, wild about alliteration and almost anything which has a trace of rhyme about it. Dark and original imagery underlines the author's faith in her readers. This is a novel I've looked forward to for a long time and so far it's not disappointing.
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Didn't like it at all...mediocre.
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Mind blowing. Upon first reading as a study with Sixth Form, I struggled to get past the first 100 pages, however, after beginning the novel again, I was unable to put it down. The beauty of the novel is that it is so complex, however once the concepts are grasped, it makes a compelling read. Roy's style flows wonderfully through the chapters, despite the fact that it isn't written in chronological order.'The God of Small Things'is definitely worth a read, and I'd recommend it to anybody, without hesitation.
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This book contains some of the most beautiful prose ever written in the English language. Roy invents a phrase and then nuances and informs it until it attains the sort of power usually held by religious language and poetry. After I read this book, I read it twice more. Also, it made me cry. I wish she would write another book for me to read.
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An elegant story of two children caught in the middle of family strife and the Indian caste system who get a brutal reminder of their inability to escape.
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I am so thankful I got to read this book. Roy is a stunning author who plays wonderfully with her words, which she calls the "graphic design of language." All her descriptions and the words that she chooses to use are unique and memorable. Beyond that, the story is poignant, heartbreaking, and will incite you to tears of hopelessness and yells of fury, all the while sticking with you. Highly recommended.
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An incredible ballad on humanity. People actually complain that a book is "too" sad?.Isn't that the best part of it?.The best book I've ever read. Its beyond reviews.
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Fraternal twins, "crime", passion, death, and caste systems.This book was eloquent, go read it.
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I really wanted to like this one. In fact, when I started the book and it was incredibly slow going, I decided that no matter what, I was sticking with it to the end. At times it felt like I was trying to run on a beach, the faster I tried to read the more exhausting it was. The book is set in India and tells the story of a set of twins, one male, one female and their complicated family. My problem with the book lies mainly with the structure. It jumps back and forth in the timeline with no real warning. First we learn about the twins as adults, then as kids, then about their mother’s life as a young woman, then about her relative’s childhood, etc. It’s hard to follow where you’re at in the tale and whose story is being told if you have to pick it up and put it down a lot. The names made it more difficult as well, though that’s not the author’s fault. I wasn’t sure whether some of the names, like Aleyooty Ammachi, Velutha and Estha, were masculine or feminine at first. I figured it out quickly, but it was one more element to juggle. The novel feels incredibly ambitious. It deals with India’s political climate, the caste system, cultural and ethical taboos, molestation, religion, family dynamics, incest, guilt. I feel like it might have been more powerful if the story was a bit more focused on a smaller number of issues. I will say that my favorite part of the book was the descriptive passages. The author has a beautiful way of phrasing things….“Margaret Kochmma’s tiny ordered life relinquished itself to this truly baroque bedlam with the quiet gap of warm body entering a chilly sea.”…but that beauty wasn’t enough to make it work for me. I’d love to hear someone’s opinion on this one that’s familiar with Indian culture. I wonder if some aspects would have worked better for me if I knew the culture better.  
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