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The God of Small Things

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  276,776 ratings  ·  16,961 reviews
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 worl ...more
Paperback, 321 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by HarperCollins (first published April 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 ni…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.
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Miranda Reads
Nov 06, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
description

That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.
Honestly, I wanted to like this one SO much but it was terrible.

The novel follows a multi-generational Indian family in 1969.

The matriarch, Mammachi, is their abused and blind grandmother. Ammu is the weary mother of fraternal twins, Esthappen and Rahel.

The twins' favorite uncle, Chacko, brings his white wife over for Christmas, the twins immediately fall in love with their cousin - only to realize just how quickly life
...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
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
Adina
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review is going to be a short one because that’s what happens when almost two months pass after I read the book. I avoided this novel for years although I knew it was a modern classic. I read that it was pretentious and confusing due to its nonlinear structure. I also had the impression it will be very long and similar to The Midnight Children (did not enjoy that one), only written by a woman. Some said that it is the worst Booker Winner. I am happy to report that none of my fears proved to ...more
Siria
Apr 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
description
Arundhati Roy - image from Slate

This is a wonderful, image-rich novel told over several generations of a family in India. The central event is the death of a young girl, and how racism, and petty, CYA politics, results in the death of an innocent for a crime that was never committed. The central character is a girl/woman, a twin, with an almost surreal connection to her other. Their family life is told. There is much here on Indian history, the caste system and how that continues to manifest in
...more
Jake
May 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amytyr
Oct 29, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brina
It is 1969 and India although having achieved independence twenty years earlier is still mired in its caste system. In this light, Arundhati Roy brings us her masterful first novel The G-D of Small Things which won the Man Booker Prize in 1997. A powerful novel filled with luscious prose and a heart rending story, Roy reveals to her readers an India hanging onto to the traditions of the past with a slight glimpse of her future.

Ammukutty Kochamma, the daughter of a respected entomologist and cla
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 92 from 1001 books) - The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things (1997) is the debut novel of Indian writer Arundhati Roy.

It is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much."

The book explores how the small things affect people's behavior and their lives. It won the Booker Prize in 1997.

The story is set in Ayemenem, now part of Kottayam district in Kerala,
...more
Samadrita
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
Matt
Sep 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, classic-novels
“As she leaned against the door in the darkness, [Ammu] felt her dream, her Afternoon-mare, move inside her like a rib of water rising from the ocean, gathering into a wave. The cheerful one-armed man with salty skin and a shoulder that ended abruptly like a cliff emerged from the shadows of the jagged beach and walked towards her.

Who was he?

Who could he have been?

The God of Loss.

The God of Small Things.

The God of Goosebumps and Sudden Smiles.

He could do only one thing at a time.

If h
...more
Rowena
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indian-lit, asia
"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
Michael Finocchiaro
I was grabbed viscerally by this book since yesterday that I finished today which I ended with the word “Tomorrow.” It was beautifully written, but it took me a while to appreciate the supersaturated text as there are analogies and allusions in nearly every sentence. The characters are drawn graphically and realistically. I also liked the Capital Letter words and concepts that are sort of a kids filter on the omniscient narrator’s text. My issue with the book is that all of the characters lack a ...more
Cecily
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
...more
Petra is getting into the holiday mood
I remember trying to read this book half a dozen times. (view spoiler) ...more
Michael
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, recs
Roy's mesmerizing debut novel delves into the social tensions and political history of Kerala, India, through the experiences of one affluent family, over the course of three generations. At the book's start the bleak end of the main plot is given away in fragments, and Roy spends the rest of the work cycling among a vast array of perspectives, memories, and time periods, vividly detailing how the sundry small things of the family members' lives led up to an irreversible tragedy. The amount of c ...more
Dolors
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dost, 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
Jo (The Book Geek)
If one ever has trouble sleeping at night, then I highly recommend "The God of small things". It has been tried and tested by yours truly, and quite honestly, this is one of the most underwhelming books that I've read in a good while.

This won the Booker prize in 1997, and reading some of the positive reviews on here, I was expecting to be truly dazzled. I hear that this book is important. Important to whom exactly? I felt nothing for this.

I think I can address the main issue immediately, that
...more
Paul Bryant
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, bookers, india
The big thing about The God of Small Things is the prose, it’s quite something. To be more specific, it’s phosphorescent, forensic, moist, listopian, inflammable, jubilant, childlike, zygotic, hierophantic, susurrant, daemonical, yeasty, garrulous, exact, oleaginous, quaggy, kleptomaniacal, newlyminted, refulgent, blinding, xenogamic, wounding, vulpine, uncanny and taxonomical but allegedly never aleatory.

Buried under and squirreled away in the middle of this great mass of mostly (beautiful, con
...more
Celeste Ng
As soon as I finished reading it, I literally turned it over and began reading it again. (Later, I discovered that a reviewer said and did the exact same thing!) This book is incredibly crafted--in plot, in structure, in language, in emotion. I read it to remind myself of that kind of book I hope to write someday. One of my all-time top-5 desert island books.
Kevin Ansbro
3.5
I usually love books that are set in the Indian subcontinent but found this one frustrating to be honest.
On the one hand it was a tour de force of sumptuous prose, but on the other I found that the narrative meandered all over the place, making it difficult to for me (with my grasshopper brain) to keep up.
Although Roy's writing is kissed by the gods, I'm a great believer in a story's need to flow and my early enthusiasm became steadily dampened as the book progressed.
...more
Samra Yusuf
At times, we suffer more from memory than the past action, we are haunted by the imagination more than reality, in a flash it’s gone, and we carry the heartache of “what if” for a lifetime to our heart, We repeat in our mind, tens and hundreds of things to say instead, we imagine infinite remaking of a vision that has gone with the wind, like two lovers of night who meet at a distant bay, trembling with the fear of what lays ahead, and pleasure of anticipation, both hesitant and hasty,loveres fa ...more
Luís
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, is a fantastic book. It takes place in a town in India called Ayemenem. It is about a family and how they deal with their day to day life. Rahel and Estha, the main characters, are twins who are always getting into trouble with their mom, Ammu. It tells about their life in India and how their government and society work. They own a Pickle factory, so Rahel and Estha's family is known as a "touchable" family. Since they are touchable, they are not allowe ...more
Matt Quann
There was no reasoning with this book. It caught me with its word-shaped eyes and wanted to lock horns. It threw me to the ground and thrashed me every time I picked it up. During some of these thrashings I came out on top, but most of the time I was overwhelmed by the book’s overpowering strength in spite of its meager spine. In the last match, as if it had been training me, I overcame the book. I had naught to do but reflect upon the struggle that had brought me to slamming shut the final page ...more
Aubrey
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
Tim
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Theresa Alan
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot of beautiful writing in this novel, but the rambling fashion in which this story is told makes it difficult to keep the characters and their timelines straight—we jump back and forth in time for no reason that I can see.

The inequality between the genders isn’t just about the fact it takes place in India. It’s also a testament to the era in history in which part of the story is told. For example, Ammu’s parents think education is wasted on a girl, so she marries the first man she
...more
Fabian
Apr 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does it say about me that I get sort of happy to find an imposter in the canon? I feel like the gestapo, that terrifyingly powerful... like I'm finally undoing or deciphering the spell that this work invokes upon the general (albeit intelligent reading) audience. Others could have easily taken its place on that memorable list... & why oh why would lauded "Tropic of Cancer" or "Mao II" possibly be considered classics, too?

& here is another. An award winning "masterpiece" held high on the lit
...more
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Arundhati Roy is an Indian writer who is also 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.

Related Articles

Twenty years after The God of Small Things, Roy's second novel arrives this month. She talks about her political activism in India and how she...
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“That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” 3109 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.”
1254 likes
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