Rajat Ubhaykar's Reviews > The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, india, splendid-prose, tragic, strong-female-characters
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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 neck.

From what could have been just another tragic incident, Arundhati Roy weaves a poignant story about the loss of innocence and the far-reaching devastation caused in the aftermath of one tragic event. She examines every character with a genuine warmth, their motivations, insecurities and most importantly, their unfulfilled dreams, the definitive universal human tragedy.

'The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.' Voltaire said. This book is an appropriate example of how true that adage is. Like a loving mother with only one piece of pie, she withholds information and doles it out at the most opportune moments, yet never does the plot become incomprehensible. In fact, we lap it all up and can't wait for the next serving. To even attempt to summarize the plot would be to take everything away from it because, well, surprise!, the book really is about the Small Things. And the Really Big Things.

On one level the book is about freespirited Ammu, our very own Madame Bovary. It's about Rahel and Estha, Ammu's twin children, their innocent childhood infringements and the soarings and stiflings of their little hearts, their complex entwined lives which are governed by the Love Laws, that lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much. And how long.

On another level, it's about the idea of men being social constructs. About our lives not really being in our hands. About our lives really being governed by the forces of the invisible big bad things, a sadistic child holding a horshoe magnet to the disparate iron filings of our small, insiginificant lives. In short, a History lesson. A lesson in Indian caste dynamics and the communist movement of Kerala. About how the Really Big Things often seep into the Small Things, like tea from a teabag.

What hurts the most is not the intensity of the characters' suffering, but the fact that it is extremely commonplace, their suffering, like labour pains, like the food chain. An Indian food chain tragedy, based on caste and other offerings History left behind in it's wake. It demonstrates how all caste-based violence is ecological, based on fear, the strange fear the powerful have for the powerless. Us and them.

At the end of it, what I got from the book (I think) was that though the Really Big Things might be really fucked up, most of the times the Small Things more than make up for it. Really.
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Quotes Rajat Liked

Arundhati Roy
“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy
“This was the trouble with families. Like invidious doctors, they knew just where it hurt.”
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things


Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
Finished Reading
November 3, 2011 – Shelved
October 15, 2012 – Shelved as: favorites
July 12, 2015 – Shelved as: india
July 12, 2015 – Shelved as: splendid-prose
July 20, 2015 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
July 20, 2015 – Shelved as: strong-female-ch... (Paperback Edition)
August 10, 2015 – Shelved as: tragic
August 10, 2015 – Shelved as: strong-female-characters

Comments Showing 1-50 of 102 (102 new)


Tanvi :) nicely written...


message 2: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Thanks Tanvi! :)


Navaneeta You have so beautifully captured it and expressed it in the language of the book. :)


message 4: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Thanks Navaneeta! It was my intention to mimic the language of the book and it feels good to have the effort acknowledged. :)


message 5: by Nilesh (last edited Sep 24, 2012 11:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nilesh Kashyap This is one of my favourite books and your review is totally awesome, I loved it. Great review and thanks for writing this.


message 6: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Thanks for the encouragement Nilesh! :)


message 7: by shanghao (new)

shanghao Wow, you made me want to read the book! It's been gathering dust in the cabinet, I don't know why I haven't gotten round to it yet.


Nilesh Kashyap Sanshow, you should give this a try. But you may not like it, this is what people call 'dark' including humour too. Anyway if you decide to read this, tell me, I will re-read this alongwith you.


message 9: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Sanshow, you ought to rescue the book trapped in your dusty closet! And remember to accompany the reading of the book with a pen for there will turn up frequently, beautiful turns of phrase that deserve underlining. :)


message 10: by shanghao (new)

shanghao Thank you both, haha. Alright, will keep in mind to include it once I finish with my current list!


message 11: by Rahul (new)

Rahul The first chapter was pathetically boring and now reading the second chapter. Can't understand why this book has got so many five stars!! May be the best pages are yet to come/.. (on page 62 of 321)


message 12: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Hi Rahul. I guess boring depends on what you look for in a book. Arundhati Roy is a masterful prose stylist, so what excited me were the beautiful quotes and of course, the small things that were captured imaginatively. It felt like I was reliving my childhood through its pages. Be warned though, it is not an action-packed book and it is incredibly tragic. I hope you like it as you get further into the story! Cheers.


message 13: by Rahul (new)

Rahul Hi Rajat. I am on the 142nd page. So I am halfway through.. still I have no idea how the story will turn or what am I reading or why am I reading their lives in day-to-day basis.


message 14: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Nice review. Next time I need to put suffering in context I may turn to this book.

I read a newspaper article last week about caste in India. People quoted in it felt that caste mattered a lot less nowadays. It even suggested that people of lower caste used it to their advantage in college admissions. I couldn't tell how closely that paralleled debate in the US about affirmative action. Anyway, forgive me if I just opened up a can of worms.


message 15: by Steve (new)

Steve I like how you've enticed us without giving any plot points away. Great job! You've given it a place on my TBR list.


message 16: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Thanks Jonathan!

Caste in India doesn't matter as far as everyday life is considered. Most educated Indians don't even know their caste. It has become a major political issue though. Parties possessing a primarily 'backward' caste vote-bank have lobbied for reservation in premier educational institutions and have achieved success. It is all part of a larger trend of the historically disadvantaged claiming and grabbing their share of political, administrative power in a country where 'you don't cast your vote, you vote your caste'. It is still a matter of much heated debate and an objective opinion is difficult. Thankfully, a clause of the reservation bill restricts reservation for well-off backward caste folks which is fair. For a detailed look at the history of India post independence, I would recommend the authoritative India After Gandhi.


message 17: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Thanks Steve! This book blew me away and I didn't want to spoil the experience for prospective readers. :)


message 18: by Jonathan (last edited Oct 20, 2012 01:54AM) (new)

Jonathan Peto Sounds like the article I read was onto something then.

Rajat, have you read Midnight's Children? Do you think it's illuminating in terms of understanding India's history? (I'm just curious.)


Oishika Chakraborty midnight's children is a good book.though it does give you an idea of India's history,it is very cynical.humorous,but cynical.


message 20: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Thanks for sharing your opinion, Oishika.


message 21: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Hi Jonathan, I apologize for the late reply. The Midnight's Children is illuminating in terms of sinking into the feel of that particular moment in history, how it must have felt to have lived then. Rushdie's portrayal of the stalwarts of Indian history drew controversy then, but are fairly accurate in my opinion. It is a sense of history seen from the lens of magical realism, Rushdie's fortre. I would recommend The Enchantress of Florence if you haven't read it already, his most deeply researched book for a wonderfully detailed, intricately descriptive, engrossing look into 16th century India under the reign of Akbar The Great. It is awe-inspiring to see Rushdie blur the lines between history and fiction with such masterful confidence.


Sarath Chandra Brilliant review Rajat. Having just read the book, i could really connect with your review. Without doubt, it is history that is the protagonist of this story.

"At the end of it, what I got from the book (I think) was that though the Really Big Things might be really fucked up, most of the times the Small Things more than make up for it. Really." I can't agree with you here though. Personally, i found the inter-dependence between the big things and small things enthralling but nowhere did i encounter the 'make up' aspect of it. In fact, i felt the author was stressing the fact that the small things are inevitably derived from the big things and there is no escaping it.

Myreview:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 23: by emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

emma A beautiful review for a beautiful book.


message 24: by Ajay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ajay You could turn out to be a capable reviewer. God of..... ..is my favourite contemporary Indian novel. I loved it better than Rushdie's Moor's Last Sigh which is my favourite R- book. And Roy is Rushdie's child. Excellent review ... had it not been for the F-word at the end, it was almost a professional review.


Audrey Coutinho I really like your review. It says everything that I want to say but have no idea how to express :)


Abhirami.a.s i saw of many of u saying ita s too melancholy and sad...but guyss think isn't it what life is all about sometimes...haven't u wondered that gos has given us all the hardships exactly at the same time....if u relate it with real life...come on guys grow up...life isn't all about happy endings...and if the books ending was different it would never had made the impact


Melissa Oh I love this book with all my heart. And yes. It does have excellent structure.


message 28: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa I've just starting this book and already love it.Thanks for a beautifully written review.


message 29: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Lisa wrote: "I've just starting this book and already love it.Thanks for a beautifully written review."

Thank you so much Lisa!


message 30: by Priyanka (new) - added it

Priyanka I don't know why, but I always had a negative feeling about this book. But your review convinced me to pick up this one next. Nice review as always. :)


message 31: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Thank you Priyanka! Glad to have made you pick this one up. :)


message 32: by Anthoney (new)

Anthoney I like the style of your reviews. Clear and to the point on what the book and the story is all about .. No meanderings .thanks as always, might take sometime but will catch up on it


message 33: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Anthoney wrote: "I like the style of your reviews. Clear and to the point on what the book and the story is all about .. No meanderings .thanks as always, might take sometime but will catch up on it"

Thank you so much Anthoney! :)


Shouri great review! :)


message 35: by Rajat (new) - added it

Rajat Ubhaykar Shouri wrote: "great review! :)"

Thank you Shouri! :)


message 36: by Hiba (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hiba Rauf Amazing review. This book is indeed a portray of the deep rooted caste system which has affected generations after generations. I believe that today when people appear to condemn racism, somehow still have that seed implanted in their hearts. The seed of superiority, the seed of judgement and hatred. And I love how the writer has beautifully expressed the hidden thoughts of Indian society. It's incredible. Kudos to Arundhati Roy!


message 37: by Farah (new)

Farah Wow


message 38: by Farah (new)

Farah Wow


message 39: by Azra (new) - rated it 3 stars

Azra Beautiful review. I just finished this book and needed something just like your review to make more sense of it. If you always write such reviews for the books you read, can I please add you to my Goodreads friends :) ?


message 40: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Hoffman Your review managed to say everything that I thought while reading the book but was unable to fully digest and be able to express in mine. It is well-written and spot-on. I hadn't realised until I saw it written in your review, that part of the tragedy was that this family's tragedy was nothing out of the ordinary. That's a depressing thought. Sometimes the Big Things are too sad and scary for us, so we turn instead to the Little Things.


message 41: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Hoffman Your review managed to say everything that I thought while reading the book but was unable to fully digest and be able to express in mine. It is well-written and spot-on. I hadn't realised until I saw it written in your review, that part of the tragedy was that this family's tragedy was nothing out of the ordinary. That's a depressing thought. Sometimes the Big Things are too sad and scary for us, so we turn instead to the Little Things.


message 42: by JD (new)

JD Robles Very nice review ! I haven't read the book but I think it may be next in line...is it something I can read while commuting or before I head for the bed? Thanks


message 43: by JD (new)

JD Robles Very nice review ! I haven't read the book but I think it may be next in line...is it something I can read while commuting or before I head for the bed? Thanks


message 44: by JD (new)

JD Robles Very nice review ! I haven't read the book but I think it may be next in line...is it something I can read while commuting or before I head for the bed? Thanks


message 45: by JD (new)

JD Robles Very nice review ! I haven't read the book but I think it may be next in line...is it something I can read while commuting or before I head for the bed? Thanks


message 46: by Joevin (new) - added it

Joevin Read the book. Could be a real story.Roy had written very cleverly about the men's need.actually the story teaches "Ammu's need".its the actual fact.very describing book about everything.


message 47: by Saurabh (new)

Saurabh Hooda Great review, Rajat.
Here is another interesting review: http://lenro.co/blog/the-god-of-small...


Deepak Tarun just started reading it ,,, 3 chapters in and already feeling what you are saying .....nicely written !!


message 49: by Isha (new) - rated it 5 stars

Isha Chawla beautiful review!


Walter I've just read the book, and reading your review was like putting a precious seal on my memories on it. Thank you!


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