The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

“And there it was again. Another religion turned against itself. Another edifice constructed by the human mind, decimated by human nature”

Cover of "The God of Small Things"

I’m dedicating this first post to the most beautiful book I’ve come across. I once read that you know a book is a good book when every time you read it, you’re introduced to it on a whole new level.

Walking between the shelves of bookstores and libraries has been an almost sacred experience for me ever since I was eight; I’d take out random books with titles I felt were catchy and skim through them to see if they were any good. And I get so enthusiastic when I start a book, and realize it was actually a good pick. The day I picked this book out, four years ago, the electricity was out at the store and I was sitting there with my cell phone trying to shine light on to the shelves. I picked it up and decided the title was catchy enough; I couldn’t skim through it in the dark, so I took it home on impulse.

The God of Small Things tells the story of Estha and Rahel, twin children growing up in a house in Aymenem, India with Ammu – their single mother, Chako – their uncle, their grandmother and great aunt, as well as Velutha – a Paravan (a lower caste) who works for their grandmother. But their childhoods abruptly end, during a visit by Chako’s British ex-wife and his British daughter, and for everyone involved life is never the same again.

The first time I read this book, I was confused. The events jump back and forth, and it shifts from small picture to big picture. When I reached the end, I’d summed up the plot, but I felt like I’d missed out on the actual book. So, I flipped over to the first page and started over. And I fell in love with it. It’s a tale of love and loss, of history at its most malicious, of childhoods robbed of innocence, of society versus the individual. It was real life as some people knew it, but thankfully as most were unaware of it.

When I was done with it, I put it on my bedside table and it’s the only book that’s managed to keep itself there since – except the times I lent it to someone worthy enough. This is a book I could always pick up and randomly read any chapter, trusting it to show me something different every time. A different quote would pop up and speak to my mind set at the time, or a different depth would reveal itself. It’s the first book I lend out to anyone who asks for one, and I say ‘but promise to read it twice’ and ‘promise to love it’!

The most interesting thing to point out though is that this book wasn’t edited. Roy just wrote her story down as it came and published. That’s why it jumps back and forth so much. But, it all fits in like the pieces of a puzzle in the end – without a missed detail. I have no idea how she did it!

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