The God of Small Things is a heart-rending story about seven years old Estha and Rahel, two-egg twins. Estha and Rahel along with their Ammu (mother) live in their maternal grandparents’ house in Ayemenem (Kerala) following Ammu’s divorce. Ammu works in the family’s pickle factory in spite of which she and her kids are denied any rights, let alone love, by her Oxford returned brother Chacko who considers them nothing less than millstones around his neck. The story goes further when Chacko’s ex-wife Margaret brings their daughter Sophie to Ayemenem on a visit from London. The ill-fated visit ends in the demise of Sophie for which Estha and Rahel have to pay a heavy price. The kids are the biggest victims as they are snatched of their childhood, their happiness sought in small things. The story reveals History’s cruel way of taking revenge at people who break the Love Laws. ‘The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.’
Set in Ayemenem in Kerala, the story sheds light on the deep rooted prejudices about caste nurtured by people. It shows the extent to which people swear on their beliefs and punish those violating the norms laid by society. The family’s Syrian Christian origins and their condescending perceptions of other castes, considered backward, are emphasized. A glimpse of the influence of communism in Kerala is also shown in the book.
Arundhati Roy is wondrously gifted in the art of language. The book has its own unique language with rhythmical analogies to every situation that is a completely lyrical experience till the last page. She has a knack of dragging you to the place and the time as she wills. The shift between places and times is seamless and delightful to say the least. The story grips you with an aching desperation to know the unknown till the end which very few writers are capable of invoking. Her characters touch your soul and melancholy washes over as you cry even when the kids laugh. It might come off as a slight task to amateur readers. They could perhaps read it once they are more comfortable with the language. For proficient readers it is 340 pages of pure indulgence!
An individual striving constantly to understand human behavior, I completely love the author’s way of expressing the sensitive thoughts and dilemmas of human mind as a child, as an adult, as a mother, as a lover. The story gives me the reassurance about human vulnerability to be loved, to dream and to be happy every time I read it. Apart from the touching story I love the book’s language which is a completely different experience in itself. Arundhati’s finest work till now and unarguably one of the most beautiful books of our times, the book is a must read for every sensitive and passionate reader.
Book Reviewed By V. Dhanalakshmi
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