Since Arundhati Roy has gone back to writing fiction after 20 years and has published a new novel this June, I decided to dredge up my old copy of The God of Small Things (1997). I first read it in 2009 and it left a lasting impression like a stain on my heart.
I think I love it even more than I did eight years ago. This book is magical, melodic, vivid, verbose, colourful and bursting.
She whizzes past heavy topics, treading sprightly through them but never hiding any of the gore or rawness. She uses humour throughout but keeps the painful truth bold and bare.
Buskers, Bihari coolies, arm-less veterans… You glean a little bit of everyone’s story as you go, little snatches of what everyone’s thinking, but the main focus is on the twins. The timeline is also jarring as she shifts between ‘past’ and ‘present’ (in single quotes because there really is no linear chronology). All this jumbled up, moving from a child’s thoughts to history lessons and from cheerful to bitter just adds to the magic of the book.
But beware, it’s super graphic and you need a strong stomach. When I say gore, I mean it. Years after reading this I would still think back on the book and remember orange soda, and I couldn’t figure out why. Re-reading this brought it all back – and you will all just have to read it to find out why orange soda left such a poignant impression.
This is also an excellent review by a fellow book blogger, a tad less optimistic. I appreciate reviews that are more scathing because I have the tendency to become really engrossed in a book and, being swept away, I always am a bit more enthusiastic about a book than it necessarily deserves.