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The God of Small Things
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The God of Small Things

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  162,596 Ratings  ·  7,958 Reviews
"They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much."

The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, fraternal twins Esthappen and Rahel fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family. Their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu, (who loves b
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published April 22nd 1997 by Random House (first published January 1st 1997)
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Chloe This book haunted me. It crept into my bones and it is simply a great novel. It is painful and describes things that may strike others as "not very…moreThis book haunted me. It crept into my bones and it is simply a great novel. It is painful and describes things that may strike others as "not very nice" - but she writes all her work with passion and conscience. Why read a review - read the book and decide yourself if it's great or not. Reviewers are only readers with a place to share opinions. We are all reviewers if we read and think about our reading.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Kaustav Kashyap Hello Liz,

I think I might be able to throw some light there. Most critics have been perturbed by those scenes and have wondered if there were some…more
Hello Liz,

I think I might be able to throw some light there. Most critics have been perturbed by those scenes and have wondered if there were some over-arching necessary with he major themes of the book. Roy's been asked this question often and in one of her interviews she clearly states that nothing in the book is unintentional. This deliberately portrayed scene however she refuses to see as incest. She strongly replied that because of the trauma faced by Estha in his childhood (the molestation scene) and Rahel's inability to love anyone else like her own brother, they had to heal each other in their own privateness. Hence, it is only Rahel that Estha opens up to and they quietly share the grief of that bonding which isn't enjoyment but a sense of sharing and unloading.

listen to this:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTwilight by Stephenie Meyer
Best Books Ever
231st out of 43,850 books — 163,680 voters
Life of Pi by Yann MartelThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Remains of the Day by Kazuo IshiguroThe Blind Assassin by Margaret AtwoodMidnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Booker Prize Winners
2nd out of 50 books — 1,572 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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 really liked it
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
Jun 19, 2009 Siria rated it did not like it
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
Jan 28, 2016 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, indian-lit
"It didn't matter that the story had begun, because Kathkali discovered long ago that the secret of 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 thou ...more
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 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
Oct 29, 2007 Amytyr rated it did not like it  ·  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 it was amazing  ·  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
Dec 17, 2007 Tim rated it it was amazing
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
Petra X
Oct 25, 2015 Petra X rated it did not like it
(view spoiler) ...more
Aug 09, 2013 Jake rated it did not like it
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
Maggie Campbell
Feb 20, 2008 Maggie Campbell rated it it was amazing
"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-
Dec 10, 2015 Iris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I'm drowning in feelings. Pappachi's moth is on my heart. Review to come.
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
May 07, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book; and it won the Booker! When I sat down on finishing it to think about the themes I realised how much ground Roy had covered and in such a beautifully written way. The themes include the caste system, religious tensions, communism, forbidden love, history and colonialism, class, culture, to name but a few. It is a family saga told in the third person and is not really sequential; the plot in outline is known from fairly early in the book.
The plot revolves around twins Rahel and
Jun 21, 2015 Teresa rated it really liked it
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
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 24, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
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
Mar 11, 2012 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 28, 2015 Poet Gentleness rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 09, 2007 César rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Oct 19, 2007 Maya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 12, 2015 Maxwell marked it as dnf
Shelves: man-booker, 2015
This isn't a bad book, it's just not a book for me. I feel like I gave it a fair shot, reading over 1/3 of the novel. But I've noticed I haven't been as inspired to read lately, and when I sit down to read this one I'm just not interested or invested in the story at all. Maybe some day I will try it again because it is a Man Booker winner--and I'm in charge of the Manbookering Group which is reading this book for November (oops! sorry y'all)--but right now I'm setting it aside. Life's too short ...more
Oct 06, 2013 Barbara rated it really liked it
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
helen the bookowl
Dec 04, 2015 helen the bookowl rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful book; both contentwise and languagewise. I do admit that it's very hard to get into because of its messy storyline and its very poetic and at times absurd writing style, but once you do you can't help but appreciate its beauty.
I picked up this book because it's part of BBC's Top 100 Books List that I'm currently trying to complete, and I'm very happy I did so. This book is set in India, and so it taught me about a different culture and a different way of living. It's about
Mar 15, 2008 Theresa rated it did not like it
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
Jan 14, 2016 Kirstine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it really began in the days the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.

Love (Out)Laws

Sometimes we love people we’re not supposed to love, or we love them the Wrong Way. Yet ‘wrong’ loses meaning in this context. If anything was ever raised above right and wrong it’d have to be love. Love just is, it happens in the world, it exists beside and above everything else that goes on. You poke and prod and yell and it doesn’t move an inch. Yet we make Lo
ميقات الراجحي
مأساة تسجلها الفتاة عن تؤمين انفصالا، ثم يبدأ عمل شريط أحداث في الاسترجاع بأسلوب جميل راق لي كثيراً وهو ما أصبحنا نقوله بإختصار الفلاش باك . وفي الرواية الكثير من المحرمات الاجتماعية التي تكثر في المجتمعات الآسيوية لكن ذكوها راق لي وكأنني مجرد قارئ يتفاعل مع هذه التجاوزات.

ثمة تمازج جميل بين الطبيعية الأمريكية والهندية حيث قاعدة أحداث الرواية. رواية تؤرخ لتاريخ عائلة في تفاصيل صغيرة جداً بيت التجربة والحزن والذكريات المنتشرة في سياق الرواية بكثرة. وحديث عن الجماعات المسيحية المنغلقة لسرٍ ما أو ظ
May 23, 2016 Reham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
تحذير مبدئى واجب : إذا كان لديك ميل عام للإكتئاب ميول أو محاولات سابقه للإنتحار إبتعد تماما عن هذه المأساه فى شكل روايه !
يقول شكسبير
الشر يعيش بعد البشر بينما يدفن الخير مع عظامهم
يا إلهى كم تحققت جملتك فى هذه الروايه يا شكسبير ليتك عشت لتقرأها ..
بتفاصيل بالغة الدقه و العمق و العظمه حتى لتشعر انك تقرأ سيره ذاتيه و لا شئ أقل من ذلك ، إستخدمت الكاتبه البارعه جدا جدا جدا جميع شخوص روايتها لتكوين مأساه كبيره
جاءت كل شخصيه مأساه خاصه بحد ذاتها ثم لبنه فى الجداريه النهائيه للمأساه الأكبر ..
مأساة فيلوثا
Aug 14, 2015 Rajan rated it really liked it
Best part is language. She writes prose but in a poetic language. She plays with words like little children plyas with toys. She is genius of word play.

two examples:

“...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 li
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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...

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“That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” 2459 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…