The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy

The 1997 Booker Prize winner, The God of Small Things is set in 1960s Kerala. Author Arundhati Roy talks about different aspects of life in late 20th century Kerala, caste system, Keralite Syrian Christian lifestyle and communism. Although the protagonists, Estha and Rahel, were loved by their mother, the rest of the family hated the twins as they were half-Hindus and made their childhood miserable. The family blamed them for every misfortune that happened. To quote a line from the book,This was the trouble with families. Like invidious doctors, they knew just where it hurt”. The siblings realized at a very young age the scary reality of life and the world. Their tortured childhood shaped their adult lives, making them more immune to the lies and hardships of the world around them.

Though the novel begins with Estha and Rahel, it also contains stories of their parents, relatives, friends of the family and political events happening at that time, which would shape the future of Kerala. Roy talks about the Indian post-colonial situation, and opinions of many Indians about the former British rulers. Estha’s and Rahel’s mother, Ammu dislikes her father for his blind devotion to the British. Ammu’s brother, Chacko explains to the twins that they come from a family of Anglophiles, or lovers of British culture, In Chacko’s words, “trapped outside their own history and unable to retrace their steps”.

Roy uses various techniques to represent the children’s point of view. She capitalizes certain words and phrases to give them significance. The children also say things that adults say, in a childish way, making short poems of dialogues they heard the adults say to each other. This shows the children’s way of looking at the world, distinct from the perspective of the grown-ups who surround them.

This book shows that how small things in life can affect a person’s life but there is always a ray of hope sent by the Almighty himself. This book is narrated brilliantly from the third person point of view and also through Rahel’s eyes. The book’s beauty lies in its way of narration and the author’s unique way of writing. A simple story of the highly complicated Ipe family set in the backdrop of social discrimination, communism and caste system, this book is mainly based on the betrayal and reading this book we can’t help but think, ‘Can we trust anyone? Can we trust ourselves?’. A stunning book, highly recommended for anyone who wish to read something different and have a great reading experience.

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