The God Of Small Things is the best-selling debut novel by Indian writer Arundhati Roy. It was published in 1997 by Flamingo books and was awarded the Booker Prize in the same year.
I happened upon this book purely by chance during my perusals of my local Waterstones bookstore and though not completely captured by the premise, I was compelled enough to purchase myself a copy of what would later become one of my favourite books of 2020. Reading The God Of Small Things was truly a memorable experience, such that I haven’t been able to stop recommending it to fellow readers since my initial experience with it back in March of last year.
It follows the story of seven-year-old fraternal twins; Rahel and Esthappen during 1969 Kerala, India, a time of political upheaval and unrest. When a visit from their cousin, Sophie from England results in her tragic, untimely death, it causes the already unforgiving divide between the twins’ and the rest of the family to become even more hostile. This is further compounded by their disgraced mother, who enters an illicit affair with a social outcast.
The God Of Small Things was gritty, provocative and profoundly heart-breaking. I savoured every piece of its vivid imagery and outspokenness. The story lacks chronology, creating a rhythm that was hard to settle into at first but all the fragments of the story converged in the most satisfying way. I felt a wealth of emotions reading about the character arcs; bewilderment at Mammachi’s devotion to her abusive husband, anger and captivation in equal parts towards Ammu’s forbidden love affair and heartbreak for the twins.
This book left a positively lasting impression on me and made me eager to read The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness, a novel that was published a whopping 20 years after Roy’s debut. Coming back after an extensive writing break, Roy was asked why it took her so long to release a second novel in an interview with the Guardian, to which she replied;
I can’t write it faster or slower than I have; it’s like you’re a sedimentary rock that’s just gathering all these layers, and swimming around.Taken from the article; ‘Fiction takes its time’: Arundhati Roy on why it took 20 years to write her second novel’ – See link below
I love the analogy and I can’t wait to see how this sense of weathered resilience translates in her latest book.
Click here to read Arundhati Roy’s interview with the guardian