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May 2018: Family Drama > The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - 3 stars

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message 1: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2300 comments The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy This is a convoluted story, it twists and turns on itself going back and forth in time with very little to identify the sudden change. The story wraps around a single event that is alluded to but kept hidden until the end.

The story is about a somewhat affluent family in Kerala. The grandmother, Mammachie, plays classical music on the violin and loves her son to distraction. Her adult daughter is Ammu (mother) to fraternal twins ("2 egg twins") who is divorced and has returned home. The son is bringing down the family business. He is also divorced and now living at home. With them is Baby, their aunt who converted to Catholicism, became a nun, and then left the order to return home. The background of each of these characters, including Pappachi who is already dead at the time covered, is told in a back and forth manner in the book.

The author plays with language and spelling a lot. She combines words (Bar Nowl is the barn owl living in the old factory), has the children (the twins) read English backwards, and she capitalizes common words periodically. It gives the story a unique and unusual flavor. As a listener to audio books, I couldn't help but wonder how a narrator could handle this. Perhaps that's why I didn't find an audio version available. She has some lovely descriptive passages that paint an exellent picture of the place and time periods of the story. The Caste system plays a big part of what happens in the story and yet it doesn't overpower, it's not preachy at all but it is tragic.

The tension builds to a climax that kept me glued to the last several (short) chapters. I'm glad I had a block of time to devote to this fairly short book because I don't think it would lend itself well to leisurely reading. I'm sure it will stay with me and I liked it but I found it difficult to deal with the author's writing style. I may be quite alone in this as it was a Man Booker Prize winner in '97.


message 2: by Anita (last edited May 21, 2018 01:15PM) (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6756 comments Barbara wrote: "The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThis is a convoluted story, it twists and turns on itself going back and forth in time with very little to identify the sudden change. The story wraps around..."

I loved this one when I read it, but it oddly hasn't stayed with me at all. When I read your review, I don't feel like it is ringing any bells at all except for the fact that the narration was unique. I think I lost my own review in the move from Shelfari. Need to double check . . .but I do recall thinking this book was impressive albeit convoluted as you point out.


message 3: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6756 comments Ha! I found my review. Apparently, I loved the prose and had less kind words for the plot. This happens to me at least once a year. I read a book, and I like the prose so much I actually can let the plot go . . .


message 4: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2300 comments Anita wrote: "Ha! I found my review. Apparently, I loved the prose and had less kind words for the plot. This happens to me at least once a year. I read a book, and I like the prose so much I actually can let th..."

I saw your review and agree with a lot of it!


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