Book Review: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Genre: Romance, Psychological Fiction

“..the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets.”

In a middle school fancy dress competition, I dressed up as Arundhati Roy. Little did I know that five years later, this book was going to change my life; that I’ll ever be picking up a book that accurately fulfils ‘the promise of a story.’

Rahel and Estha, the fraternal twins, come back to their hometown, Ayemenem, and meet each other after what feels like a Long Time. Arundhati Roy guides the story through this town of Ayemenem where Rahel’s and Estha’s childhood history cajoles a tale that whispers the secrets of their family, the casteist air of the city, the political bearing of the atmosphere and the hidden specks of exploitation and discriminatory mishaps that seed in a city’s existentialism.

Arundhati Roy then introduces The God of Small Things and explains the readers how the God of Small Things is always happy and cheerful, even in troubled situations, due to ‘the relative smallness of his misfortune’ or due to the considerable minuteness of a problem. And how, it is this smallness of a misfortune that, in turn, results in big, undeniable consequences.

The ending makes Rahel and Estha, now thirty-one, realise that they are just as ill-fated as they were years ago when they were young, with only each other to count on, always looked on by The God of Small Things, only to end up in a situation that their mother, Ammachi, had ended up in when she was their age; a situation that lead to their ruins, that caused a calamity in their family. A situation that centered around love; a love that was punishable, forbidden and unrequited.

The God of Small Things is a wholesome book that you can only dream about. A story that connects the dots of all the realms of reality. A funny, epitomising tale of two child-like hearts discovering the world. A daunting, eccentric tale of unexpected love stories. A tale that breathes the horrors of Life and the consolation of Death. A book that fills you up with a flourish of colours and emotions. A book that sets you free.

A handful of my favourite quotes:

  1. It’s curious how sometimes the memory of death lives on for so much longer than the memory of the life that it purloined.
  2. The source of his brittle elation was the relative smallness of his misfortune.
  3. She’s living her life backwards.
  4. It was a time when the unthinkable became thinkable and the impossible really happened. 
  5. That it really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much.
  6. People always loved best what they most identified with.
  7. Thats what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.
  8. …she recognised nothing around her. Only her fear was familiar.
  9. There are things that you can’t do – like writing letters to a part of yourself. To your feet or hair. Or heart.
  10. If he touched her, he couldn’t talk to her, if he loved her he couldn’t leave, if he spoke he couldn’t listen, if he fought he couldn’t win.
  11. And once again, only the Small Things were said. The Big Things lurked inside unsaid.
  12. Change is one thing. Acceptance is another.

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