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The God of Small Things

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  141,605 ratings  ·  6,795 reviews
The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers' demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale.... Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 455 pages
Published December 31st 1997 by Thorndike Press (first published 1997)
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Rajat Ubhaykar
Okay, first things first. The God Of Small Things is a very very clever book, but what makes it exceptional is that it is both beautiful and crafty, a rare combination. This book has structure. Lots of it. She effectively creates a language of her own, a juvenile lucid language which complements the wistful mood of the book beautifully. The plot moves around in space and time with masterful ease and one can't help but experience a vague sense of foreboding, a prickly fear in the back of your nec ...more
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Apr 08, 2008 Adrianne Mathiowetz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adjective-lovers, women who sometimes fantasize about Going A Little Nuts
Recommended to Adrianne by: Jan
Lush, gorgeous prose: reading The God of Small Things is like having your arms and legs tied to a slowly moving, possibly dying horse, and being dragged face-down through the jungle. I mean, like that, only nice. You can't stop seeing and smelling everything, and it's all so foreign and rich. Potentially ripe with e coli.

The similes and metaphors Roy employs are simultaneously tactile and surreal, like an overly vivid dream, and her storytelling style is somewhere between Joseph Conrad, Emily D
As I stand just outside the compound with the untended garden - an uninvited, random visitor - the darkened Ayemenem House resembles a haunted mansion, belying the truth of the lives it once nurtured with maternal protectiveness in its cozy interiors. Derelict. Abandoned. Forgotten.
But I remember. I remember the lives lived, and the loves which were birthed by circumstances, loves which breathed for a while before perishing on the altar of conformity.
I remember Chacko and Sophie Mol. Ammu and V
Please excuse me while I go sit in this corner and be dreadfully underwhelmed.

The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize in 1997, and I'd heard very good things about it. And yet I really didn't like it. It's not a bad book - far from it. The characters she has created are really wonderful, and she has succeeded in evoking all the noises and sights and smells of Kerala, even for someone like me who's never been further east than Poland. The narrative structure is disjointed, wandering from the
Steve Sckenda
Aug 12, 2014 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Refuse to Be Told Who and How To Love
Recommended to Steve by: Booker Prize
There is a cost of loving. “The God of Small Things” tells of small people with large hearts who pay the price for breaking the Love Rules. “Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstituted. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they became the bleached bones of a story."

Rahel and Estha Kochamma are twins, female and male, who are born into a prominent family in the state of Kerala, India. The twins live in a dysfunctional family with their mother, Ammu, and an eccentri
I recognize that when it comes to this book, platitudes are worth even less than usual when it comes to the conveyance of something with actual meaning. So on that note I will spare both you and I that. Instead, I will comfort myself in the core of metaphor, and go from there.

To say that this book resonated with me is akin to saying that ingestion of arsenic does a decent job of causing multi-system organ failure. To say that I read it at the right time is akin to saying that the added latex to
Dec 17, 2007 Tim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who can handle it
Okay, it won the Booker prize and everyone has said it before - but god damn is this one melancholy piece of work, and that's actually why I like it.

It's melancholy, not depressing, and it answers more questions about the characters than it first seemed to, although, I have to say, the characters on the whole are quite two-dimensional. Then again, so are a lot of real people: this is an indictment of human life if ever I saw it.

The language is brilliant, the running together of words to form the
Oct 29, 2007 Amytyr rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No-one.
Shelves: have-read
This is, without a doubt, the single worst book ever written.
It makes virtually no sense, jumping from past to present tense so often and without warning that you have no idea whats going on. Out of nowhere the writer mentions filthy disturbing sexual things for no reason. I could not even find a story in there, just meaningless jibberish.
The thing that amazes me most though, is that while i am yet to meet a single person that LIKES this book, it makes it onto all the top 100 lists etc.
I can o
Apr 08, 2014 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Small People with Big Hearts
Recommended to Dolors by: Aubrey
Shelves: read-in-2014
I tried to stay afloat with all my willpower but the unchained maelstrom gurgling in Small Miracles and Big Calamities sprouting from this novel proved to be far too violent for my feeble arms and my fragile heart. So I drowned. I died a thousand deaths engulfed by the swelling waters of this lush river of flowing allegories and rippling parables that washed my being over and over again in waves of piercing beauty and unbearable sadness.
Mimicking the natural cycle of the lunar tide, Arundhati Ro
Maggie Campbell
"Nothing mattered much. Nothing much mattered. And the less it mattered, the less it mattered. It was never important enough. Because Worse Things had happened. In the country that she came from, poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace, Worse Things kept happening."

"Perhaps it's true that things can happen in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcomes of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house-
A lyrical, mysterious tale of misunderstanding and pain, echoing through the years. At its dark heart, it demonstrates how small things can have multiple and major consequences, meaning that everything can change in a single day. "Anything can happen to anyone. It's best to be prepared." - and these fears trigger tragedy.

It is set in Kerala (southern India) in 1969 (when twins Rahel (girl) and Estha (boy) are aged 7) and 23 years later, when the twins return to the family home. As the narrative
I'm all by myself here, but what the hell.

This reads like a graduate writing class exercise blown from 20 pages to 300. The metaphors, while occasionally fresh and unexpected, are tedious and frequently stand in for something that could be much less complex. The writing is self-conscious and precious. There is really no good reason to tell the story in such a disjointed fashion. Roy's attempts to recreate the way children view the world were cute for about 10 pages, and then became tiresome (the
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 d ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 24, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Man Booker, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, pulitzer, india
This is about the sad, poignant breakdown of an illustrious family in the 60’s in a place called Kerala, a state in India. It revolves around a woman called Ammu who has twins called Estha and Rahel and a lover called Velutha. She and her twins reside in an old house with her mother, Mamachi and her cunning aunt, Kochama. Her twins are not Velutha’s but of Baba’s. However, Ammu has left Baba because he is an alcoholic and tries to prostitute Ammu to his employer. Her mother and aunt are not in f ...more
4 and 1/2 stars

I admire this book: its structure, descriptive prose and portrayal of the children. One of the 'Two Things' (that's an allusion to the book) I heard about the novel before reading it was how sad and depressing it is. It is, especially in that the adults fail the children so spectacularly and, for the most part, intentionally (plus it's always hard to read of children as victims) but perhaps I've read so much sad, depressing fiction in my life that this one didn't stand out as more
I bought this viably readable novel last week and wondered why this one seemed familiar to me. Later I found out from the internet it was the 1997 winner of the Booker Prize, that is, its cover has kept haunting me since more than ten years ago and I wasn't aware of its formidable literary acclaim and honour. One of the reasons is that I've never read Arundhati Roy before since this is her debut worth reading critically and enjoyably.

I kept on reading, liked it and agreed with the review that it
Poet Gentleness
May 21, 2014 Poet Gentleness rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love without reservations
Recommended to Poet Gentleness by: Steve Sckenda
Everything out of the ordinary.

It's ten-to-two.
It's ten-to-two on Rahel's painted watch.
It’s ten-to-two on Rahel’s painted watch which lies under the revolved earth of The History House in the Heart of the Darkness.

It’ll be always ten-to-two on the stillness of Roy’s book as the derailed freight train of her story slams into our hearts.
It’ll be always ten-to-two when Sorrow, Pain, Unrequited Love, Too Much Love, and Unbearable, yet Understandable, Truths of Life collapse from their wagons a
I literally long for Arundhati Roy to write another fiction book, even if it will only be half as beautiful as "The God of Small Things." This is one of those books that has left an indelible mark on me. I never thought one could realistically portray childhood innocence while also depicting haunting tragedy, that a book filled with so many "grown-up" issues could be narrated by a child. This isn't a book that you barrel through to find out what happens next, this is a book that you have to floa ...more
Oct 06, 2013 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Diane D. DeJoie
Shelves: asia
My biggest problem with this book is how to rank it. I did not enjoy a good part of it. It is bleak, dispiriting and evokes a sense of impending disaster through much of the story. The reason I am in a quandary about my sense of this novel is that I was, simply stated, delighted by Roy's unique and wonderfully creative style of writing.

A brief synopsis of the plot will provide many examples of my ambivalence. This is the tale of a pair of near-genius, "two-egg" twin children and their eccentric
i know i'm alone on this one. i've never heard a single negative comment about the good of small things. plus, i love arundhati roy. i've read several of her books of essays, heard her speeches, read her occasional newspaper colums, never without utter amazement at the beautiful arrangements she composes with words.

when i finally got around to reading the god of small things i had high hopes. that might be part of the reason why i was so disappointed with this novel. maybe i'd placed it somewhe
“Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house---the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture---must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.”

Though I
Кремена Михайлова
Мога да се разплача във всеки момент, като си спомня за "Богът на дребните неща" (същото се получава с "Да дойдеш на света"). Но не само заради мъката в тази книга... А и заради вълнението от необичайния и талантлив начин, по който е написана.

Но не се чете лесно - три пъти по време на четенето щях да я изоставям, дори след 2/3 от книгата (но усетих, че не трябва). Не мога да забравя началото: созополска "Аполония" - в коридорчето метър на метър (за да не преча на спящите в стаята), на малка таб
No matter how many times it happens, I am always stunned when a debut novel is this good. Such beautiful, well-crafted language.
Rhythm and repetition are as powerful in prose as they are in poetry and music. Arudhati Roi's writing in The God of Small Things is hyper-aware of that. Rhythmic structures dominate the novel at all levels, from the riffs and variations of "If he touched her he couldn't talk to her, if he loved her he couldn't leave, if he spoke he couldn't listen, if he fought he couldn't win," to the larger rhythm of foreshadowing backed by detailed reminiscence that drives the narrative while not pretendin ...more
Her writing style was wonderful. I enjoyed her unique use of grammar and punctuation. The imagery was beautiful as well; but that's about where my praise ends. This particular novel falls into a category I call "Wallowing in the Most Base and Offensive Aspects of the Human Condition Without the Slightest Hint of Hope." I'm not one to shy away from uncomfortable themes and issues, but I at least like to see something constructive being done with them: a moral, an opinion, a solution, or at least ...more
بثينة العيسى
أحببتها، كل تفصيل، كل شيء صغير انتبهت له وكل شيء كبير تغاضيت عنه من فرط الألم، ورغم قصور الترجمة وقفزي العشوائي بين العربية والإنجليزية إلا أنها أدهشتني تماماً، وكأنني أطفو في عقلٍ كليٍ هو في الحقيقة عقل طفلة/طفل .. توأمي بيضتين.

رواية ملائمة للتسبب بالقشعريرة، كالفراشة على قلب راحيل، ترفع ساقيها الباردتين وتعيد إنزالهما .. مراراً وإلى الأبد.
Rating: 3,5 stars

This was such a different story, but one that definitely leaves an impression and one that I will remember for quite some time. It was written in such a different and wonderful way, especially the twins' POVs. I pretty much wanted to highlight most of the book!

Oh, Estha and Rahel... Ammu and Velutha... Heartbreaking.

Definitely a recommended read! I don't even know what to say except to read it if you're curious. It's worth the time.

"All three of them bonded by the certain, s
I wavered between a 3 and a 4 throughout this book. There's a lot that I liked - it's whimsical, funny, and the story is filled with a quiet, brooding dread. It wasn't bad, but ultimately, the fragmented, cutesy, sing-song language grated on my nerves too much. ...more
Mar 30, 2008 Carmen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carmen by: Claire Schagerl & others
This book has sat on my shelf for close to ten years. Well, it has sat on various shelves of various bookcases in seven different homes of four different cites in three different states. Ten years ago (yes, really!) when I was an undergrad and worked at a bookstore I brought home book after book after book (weekly, at least) and slowly over the years I have read through what seemed like an endless supply of unread books. Often distracted by new releases, library loans, and must-purchases-from-in ...more
Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things
1997, Flamingo
340 pages

Seldom while reading have I found my heart aching and my eyes watering when only at page 5.

The God of Small Things, set in India, is a story of a family torn apart by the wish to love, but more so, the desire to be loved.

Seen through the eyes of Estha and Rahel (twins, one soul), the story, which starts off with the funeral of the twins’ cousin Sophie Mol, unravels through memories and the personal histories of the characters involved.
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Arundhati Roy is an Indian writer who writes in English and an activist who focuses on issues related to social justice and economic inequality. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and has also written two screenplays and several collections of essays.

For her work as an activist she received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in 2002.

More about Arundhati Roy...
An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire The Algebra Of Infinite Justice Power Politics War Talk The Cost of Living

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“That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” 2218 likes
“...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.”
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