Brina's Reviews > The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, india, man-booker

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 classical violin player, desired an education rather than an arranged marriage. Her family belonged to the Touchable caste and, while tolerable of others, desired that their daughter married someone from a family like theirs. Ammu met a Bengali and married for love. He turned out to be an alcoholic and they divorced within two years, although not before giving birth to fraternal twins Estahappen (Esta) a boy and Rahel a girl. Ammu retreats with her children to the family estate, doomed to live a miserable life as an outcast.

Even though Ammu raises Esta and Rahel to be brilliant children, the rest of the family resents their presence at the home in Ayemenem. Her father has died and her mother, although a presence, is blind. The new head of the family is her brother Chacko, a former Rhodes Scholar and current member of the communist party. Although he attempts to be a father to the twins, his pseudo-love pines for his biological daughter Sophie Mol who lives in England. While Chacko tolerates the family, Ammu's aunt Baby Kochamma spews nothing but venom at Ammu and her children for the rest of her life. Failed at both becoming a nun and winning over her true love in life, Baby Kochamma desires nothing more than to make all those around her miserable, but especially her divorced niece Ammu and two bastard children.

Roy merited the Booker prize for her story alone as it featured forbidden love within the caste system and memorable, multi-layered characters. Yet, what most likely won Roy this award was her masterful prose, which, when combined with her tale, results in an instant classic. Switching from current time to flashbacks, speaking backwards in twin language, and detailed descriptions of Indian life are only a few of the facets contributing to this tale. Adding to the prose the tragic tale of twins separated, a woman denied love because he belongs to another untouchable caste, and other characters pining for a life that might have been, Roy has woven together a true gem.

Recently I joined the year of reading women of color challenge, which lead me to read novels by female authors around the globe who I would not have considered otherwise. Arundhati Roy is a gifted storyteller and film writer, whose work should not be missed. Her second novel The Ministry of Upmost Happiness is due out in July 2017. If it is nearly as masterful as The G-D of Small Things, it is a novel that should not be missed. A luscious, complex novel worthy of its awards, The G-D of Small Things merits 5 sparkling stars.
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Reading Progress

December 1, 2016 – Shelved
December 1, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
December 1, 2016 – Shelved as: man-booker
December 1, 2016 – Shelved as: india
December 1, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
December 18, 2016 –
page 30
8.82%
December 22, 2016 – Started Reading
December 22, 2016 –
page 85
25.0%
December 23, 2016 –
page 130
38.24% "Rich prose and story picking up."
December 24, 2016 –
page 236
69.41%
December 25, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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Lata Lovely, Brina. I remember loving her gorgeous, lush prose.


Brina Thank you Lata. Looking forward to her next book.


message 3: by Candace (new)

Candace Fantastic review, Brina! :)


Brina Thank you, Candace.


message 5: by Deb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deb Nice review and I like the idea of that challenge.


Brina Thank you Debbie. If you are interested it is part of the group 500 Books by Women.


Brina *500 Great Books by Women


message 8: by Deb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deb Thanks Brina. What I would like to do is peruse some of your read books to get some of the authors names and book titles. But to be honest I'm too broad about my book interests to be able to stick to only women authors. I'm mood driven.


Brina I am the same way but it definitely makes me conscious of authors I had never heard of before. My target next year is 25 authors by women of color.


message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy I am thrilled to know she has a second novel coming! Thanks for the heads up. Wonderful review.


Brina Thank you Judy. I hope the second novel is as good as this one.


message 12: by Iris P (new) - added it

Iris P A masterful review for what sounds like a masterful novel Brina.I am fascinated by all the context you provided here, which makes think I must make time to read this author and this novel soon, thank you!


Brina Thank you so much Iris. Before joining the women of color challenge this book was not in my radar. It is special and should not be missed so I hope you get to it soon.


message 14: by Zoeytron (new) - added it

Zoeytron An exceptional review, Brina, thank you. I have this one marked.


Brina Thank you Zoeytron. I hope you get to this soon.


message 16: by Laura (new)

Laura Leaney This book has recently been the subject of contention in Illinois. Lemart High School has been in the news for removing it from the curriculum. One parent (apparently) called it "smut" and "porn." All of that negative publicity - and your review - makes me want to read it that much more than I did before.


Brina Definitely there are scenes that would be considered "smutty" by a high school curriculum. I think an AP class could handle it so it's their loss if they choose to ban it. Definitely Roy exposed me to another part of the world so it is a shame that people are not opened minded.


Celia Brina, this is a fantastic review. I just finished the book and did not have as much to say as you. Your review alone enhanced the book for me. TY. 😘


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