Zeek's Reviews > The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
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's review
Apr 12, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: classics, classics-modern, fiction, literary, fiction-modern-cultural-setting
Read in February, 2006

Touted for its literary quality and lyrical, poetic prose; I of course had to work through that negative mark against it. (That kind of stuff always feels pretentious to me.)

Despite all the annoying overwritten prose, use of Caps To Emphasize Phrases, Short. Sentences. and obvious affectation, I couldn't seem to put it down.

Set in Kerala, India, during the late 1960s the books tells the story of fraternal twins Rahel (female) and Estha (male). It circles around them and moves in and out between them as children and then as adults- most times in the very next scene, rather than chapter- so fast, it made my head spin.

The author uses obvious foreshadowing and builds up to revealing the night that Sophie (the twins' "English cousin") drowned, showing the family tensions that led to the twins' behavior on that night. And believe me there's a ton of tension. The men in the family are mean and abusive, and the women are bitter and resigned. This is not a romanticized view of family life in India. It's brutal and depressing.

The author also weaves in the political atmosphere of that time; when the effects of the caste system were still evident and communism was vying for position.

The story is mainly written from Rahel's POV, but there is one scene, haunting me even now, that gives a clue as to why her twin Estha retreated inside himself and refused to speak anymore. I believe the big climax involving their cousin's death seals it for him, but that other incident, set him well on that path to shutting down.

The techinical aspects took this novel down a notch for me, but for the haunting story I'm giving it a 4 out of 5.

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