The God of Small Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The God of Small Things

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  117,174 ratings  ·  5,908 reviews
"A banquet for all the senses", said Newsweek of this bestselling and Booker Prize-winning literary novel--a richly textured first book about the tragic decline of one family whose members suffer the terrible consequences of forbidden love.
The God of Small Things is Roy's first book, and as of 2012, is her only novel. Completed in 1996, the book took four years to write. T...more
Paperback, 340 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Flamingo (first published January 1st 1997)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Hush, Hush by Becca FitzpatrickTwilight by Stephenie MeyerThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldFallen by Lauren KateNew Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Best Book Cover Art
178th out of 4,493 books — 4,547 voters
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëTo Kill A Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane AustenThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodEmma by Jane Austen
BBC Women's Watershed Fiction (2004 poll)
69th out of 131 books — 18 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Dec 22, 2007 Mandy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those who thrive on tragedy
I picked this book up at a book fair with my friend. I had heard wonderful things about it, but the lesson I have learned is to do your research if the book you choose to read is without a synopsis on the back.

I'm not giving this book a one-star rating because of the quality of Roy's writing - on the contrary, her work is incredibly moving and beautifully poetic - but my rating is the result of disappointed expectations. As an optimist, I had picked up this book hoping that it would be densely...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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-...more
Oct 29, 2007 Amytyr rated it 1 of 5 stars 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...more
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...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
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
Sep 10, 2013 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lauren by: my mother's favourite book
Shelves: favourites, read-2013
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 in the sun.

And so begins a novel which maintains throughout, this staggering balance between the beautiful and the brutal. A novel which stuns with its gorgeous, heady imagery...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...more
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
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...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...more
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...more
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...more
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
No matter how many times it happens, I am always stunned when a debut novel is this good. Such beautiful, well-crafted language.
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...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.
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....more
Lamski Kikita
A story from real life (even though it's fiction)about the struggles of the diffeent classes and castes in a polarized, politicized, and mysticised Kerala of South India.

The story told about two-egg twins and their family caught up in a whirlwind of coincidences that all conspired to create the biggest event: the death of two people at the very opposite extremes of the social continueum (the little white girl who was loved by everyone even before arriving, and an untouchable communist carpenter...more
L.M. Ironside
This book, for me, epitomizes the adage "less is more."

Roy's prose is lovely and evocative, and moves like a majestic first. After about two chapters the prose felt ponderous, having failed to leaven itself with a touch of character or plot, and it quickly overwhelmed me under layers of dense prosecake. I soon felt uncomfortably gorged on its richness, and never found an interesting character to latch onto or a clear conflict to follow to its resolution.

By the time I realized t...more
I first read this book several years ago, but I've since revisited it many times. I think I keep coming back to it because it solicits such strong emotion from the reader. This is due both to the socially relevant and duly complicated story, and the intuitively realized characters. Narrated in retrospect, the novel spins the tale of the the manner in which Estha and Rahel, child twins living on the very edge of a still-socially respectable and economically-stable family in Ayemenem (in the Keral...more
3.5 stars - I rarely read "literary" novels, especially in the past, and this book was one of the first that I got my hands on. It was the Indonesian version, and it received rave reviews from my friends at work, so I decided to take a peek. It was filled with long, convoluted sentences that I thought, no wonder people don't like to read literature!

But then I got curious with the English version, so I looked it up on Amazon to read the first few pages, and what a difference it makes! The English...more
Andrea Fortwendel
Okay so I just finished The God of Small Things. It is a truly excellent story written in the most beautiful language. The words dance, melt, and imbibe such sad memories lingering in bright colors. The story is tragic, but hopeful in a way. The hopefulness rests in the possibility of new beginnings. It brought up questions about love and how I prescribe it and it what doses. The God of Small Things serves as a mirror reflecting my fears concerning motherhood, the poignancy of my words to my chi...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
No reviews 8 65 Feb 03, 2014 02:33AM  
Latvija: Ārzemju (jūlijs) –Mazo Lietu Dievs 5 39 Jul 29, 2013 11:23AM  
La Stamberga dei ...: Il dio delle piccole cose di Arundhati Roy 1 9 Jun 19, 2013 11:34AM  
To Kill A Mockingbird with an Indian Twist! 8 118 Oct 29, 2012 09:46PM  
Spoilers are a click away, but please help! 9 282 Jun 30, 2012 12:33AM  
  • Saville
  • The Siege of Krishnapur (Empire Trilogy, #2)
  • The Elected Member
  • Something to Answer For
  • The Famished Road
  • The Conservationist
  • The Ghost Road (Regeneration, #3)
  • A Suitable Boy
  • Family Matters
  • How Late It Was, How Late
  • Staying On
  • The Sea
  • The Inheritance of Loss
  • Cracking India
  • Holiday
  • Interpreter of Maladies
  • The Shadow Lines
  • The Moor's Last Sigh
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

Share This Book

“That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” 1963 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.”
More quotes…