Siria's Reviews > The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
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did not like it
bookshelves: 20th-century, indian-fiction, by-poc

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 now to 1969 and back again, but I never found myself getting confused by it.

The language use is inventive and creative and original; there were times when I found myself pausing to read back over a particular metaphor or simile because it was just that beautiful or thought-provoking. But the further I read into the book, the more strained the language seemed. It seems to be teetering more and more from the wonderfully ornate to a kind of thing that reminds me of Victorian architecture - all curlicues and flourishes and bilious cherubs and buildings that look like gigantic, overdone wedding cakes. It's too much all at once, overwhelming the eye and leaving me feeling faintly sea-sick.

I don't like the tone she takes in parts of it, either; especially when she's talking about human nature or history or the caste system. Not that I don't agree with a lot of what she says - I do - but she's too didactic. I think it's her tendency to put every line in a new paragraph in these sections. A subtle hand will always serve you better, I think.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 1, 2004 – Finished Reading
April 26, 2008 – Shelved
May 9, 2008 – Shelved as: 20th-century
May 9, 2008 – Shelved as: indian-fiction
June 19, 2009 – Shelved as: by-poc

Comments Showing 1-40 of 40 (40 new)

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message 1: by Shoba (new)

Shoba Sriaiyer You write well; I say this though I don't entirely agree with your rating of this book.

message 2: by Flo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Flo Yes, I agree whole-heartedly with your review. Thank you! I was having trouble putting it into words.

Punam J lol you are so very right! :)

ddjiii "...Victorian architecture - all curlicues and flourishes and bilious cherubs and buildings that look like gigantic, overdone wedding cakes..." Yes. Although I still mostly liked it.

Randal Samstag "It's too much all at once, overwhelming the eye and leaving me feeling faintly sea-sick." - India is like that!

Deeptanshu That us very true, this book was a huge disappointment after all the hype and I for one will be avoiding any other books written by Ms. Roy.

Gavin "It's not a bad book - far from it" 1 star. Your review is a joke.

Siria Gavin wrote: ""It's not a bad book - far from it" 1 star. Your review is a joke."

And either you're a rather immature 15-year-old or you get your rocks off being an asshole to strangers on the internet. Being rude to me isn't going to get me to change my mind about a book; the fact that you clearly liked it a lot doesn't render my opinion invalid.

Gavin Apologies if you were offended. But the contradictory nature of some of your review, and I quote, "it's not a bad book - FAR FROM IT" and the rating you gave is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

I can only assume you gave a low rating to accompany your review to provoke a reaction. In which you have succeeded at the expense of making your review a mockery.

message 10: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria Phrasing an apology in the conditional when you've just condescended to someone renders it less than a proper apology.

The ratings which I give to books on this site reflect both my opinion of their technical merits and my subjective reactions to them. It is entirely possible for a person to recognise the merits of a book or movie or piece of art while personally being unmoved by it or disliking it. Many people like Charles Dickens' novels; they are largely not to my taste, but I recognise their good qualities and Dicken's talent, and my disinterest in Dicken's oeuvre doesn't affect what other people think about those books.

I do not write reviews with the intention of provoking any particular reaction in a potential reader, but to record what I felt on finishing a book—in this case, a novel which I read almost a decade ago and which I cannot remember in any great detail.

Given what you say here, I can only assume that you're going around commenting on people's reviews of this book in order to 'provoke a reaction.' What exactly do you think you're going to accomplish by doing so? You're not trying to begin a productive conversation, you're not going to change my mind by adopting this tack.

Gavin I'm not trying to change your mind about said book but only point out how useless your score is in relation to the review.

Your review isn't a bad review - far from it. 1 Star.

message 12: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria And I've already explained to you how I rate things on this site in far more detail than I'm obliged to, which makes me think that you're either being deliberately disingenuous or you're obtuse. My goal in life is neither to be useful to you nor to conform to how you think I should use this site.

Goel Vivek TRUE atleast for me.!
I started with the book and found tired of too much explanation over surroundings, weather and left-right things. Put on hold (may be for long or very very long) just after reading first fourth of the prose.

_being_me I really love the metaphors and similes.....but I don't like the book.

message 15: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria No. The rating system on Goodreads is on a subjective scale of how much one liked a book. I may recognise that a work has merit and still dislike it a great deal, as I believe I made perfectly clear in previous comments.

message 16: by Siria (new) - rated it 1 star

Siria You do you, sir.

message 17: by Matilda (new)

Matilda I really like the way you argue the toss here with La Gavin. I also like this last set of defences which don't have the critiques. Actually I read this book when it first came out and I loathed it. I really loathed it. I loathe quite a lot of 'good' books - The Master and Margharita, 100 Years of Solitude, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, L'Etranger, anything by Alice Munroe, her I hate like poison, probably a whole truckload more that I've fortunately just avoided reading. So I understand the one star idea, though if you were really babysitting your readers you'd say, 'yet I goddamn hated and it probably IS bad, but not bad as in evil or grammatically rubbish, just bad cos it's boring and: maybe actually things I hate probably just are bad because there might be something divine about MY subjectivity in particular. So there.' Well you wouldn't say that because you're diplomatic. Anyway I quite liked the way you left off there, because why not, it's too dreary to lumpen on about personal opinion, and would have ruined the paragraph. I don't like Dickens either. So all this was quite pleasing to me, ta.

Nikita Singh My exact thoughts

Dusan If I'm ever asked to justify my two-star rating of this novel, I'll just refer them to your review.

message 20: by Jack (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jack Excellent! My thoughts exactly!

Helene zactly

Saloni I totally agree with you! The writing was really nice at the start but then I felt that towards the end, she was just trying hard to get as many metaphors out of her. I found the book really boring.

message 23: by Alyson (new) - added it

Alyson I've read two chapters and I'm exhausted. I concur with this review and the comments which follow. It's just too much. I enjoy the descriptive word, however, it never seems to end here.

message 24: by Ronda (new) - added it

Ronda I haven't read this book. I came here looking for helpful reviews and got caught up in the disagreement between Shoba and Gavin. I sometimes wish a written review didn't have to be attached to a star because I understood Shoba's well written expression of her opinion, however I agree with Gavin that a 1 star review doesn't seem to reflect her appreciation for aspects of the work. I guess it depends on the reviewer's intent; are you writing a review for yourself, to record your impressions, or for a prospective reader, in which case 1 star perhaps isn't a fair reflection that will help them decide to read or not to read if they are skimming star ratings.

message 25: by Ronda (new) - added it

Ronda Sorry, meant Siria, not Shoba

Kiasha Honestly, I had to start the book 3 times because I couldn't get into it the first two times. Some of the metaphors were good, but the writing is on the boderline of "strange" for me. The hype did Not seem worth it to me.

Carmen This writing is rubbish, pure rubbish. How come a brilliant mind can emanate such distorted piece of nonsense?

message 28: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Kuritzky Another agree. What I’d call precious writing; occasional great turns of phrase but more that sound wonderful until I’d re read them a few times thinking what the hell does that even mean? And despite starting the book twice and reading a third the characters never became real or in any way care what became of them. A typical Booker Prize sort of book meant to be awarded not read.

message 29: by Mary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mary I also agree. I found the story hard to follow because of all the flash backs in time. I did not care for the writing style.

Shouting Owls I agree. This book, despite of the strange tone with so many similes, is a masterpiece. I am sure I will enjoy it if it is in Chinese, but the language is too difficult for me.

message 31: by Joan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joan I agree with much of what you say, though I am only half way through. The characters are interesting, her descriptive language effective but it is becoming oppressive- like waiting for the monsoons perhaps.

message 32: by Lise (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lise Pomerleau I agree with the comments here. I did find her use of language inventive but I couldn't connect with the characters nor see where the story was going, three chapters in. I abandoned it. I made the mistake of reading to the end of The Luminaries and regretted wasting my time on 900 pages of nonsense. I'm too old to do that anymore.

message 33: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Lee this is spot on! i felt bad that amidst the praises and good reviews this book has garnered, i felt a sudden disinterest in finishing the book. i even thought i alone felt that way and maybe something's wrong with me. yes, it was very good at first, very riveting but dragging as it went on. it's like eating too much sugar, you just stop and want to wash it all down.

message 34: by Selene (new)

Selene AGREED!

message 35: by Wei (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wei Ting I agree that the language was at times overbearing, but I also felt that such effect on the reader was intentional- to draw attention to the small things that were here, there, in Velutha and in everywhere, whilst the family and politicians in the novel only focused on the big things, the lofty ideas of religion, class, power and honor. Thoughts?

Athanasius 1 star?! You're better than that Siria.

message 37: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Volchenko Thank you for this review.

Aaron Kuruppassery I skipped some pages of this book. I think that the middle part is a bit long drawn. For example, the part where the problems of these Kathakali artists are laid out, I didn't understand the relevance of that.
The author paints a vivid picture of the social, cultural and economic landscape of Kerala prevailing at that time. Sometimes I found it to a little distracting from the core of the story.

message 39: by Tammy (new) - rated it 1 star

Tammy Swartzendruber jata I quit after chapter 2. One of the worst, disjointed books I ever read. I skimmed ahead and nope! Not wasting my time on this. If you have story to tell, tell it! Don’t just hint at the story the whole through. Sort out your characters and don’t give us such a mishmash of people. Argh! What a train wreck!

Wesley Fleure This review doesn’t reas like a one star review

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