Summary and book reviews of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things

By Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things
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  • Hardcover: May 1997,
    321 pages.
    Paperback: May 1998,
    321 pages.

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Book Summary

"They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much. "

The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers' demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale. . . .

Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family--their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts).

When their English cousin, Sophie Mol, and her mother, Margaret Kochamma, arrive on a Christmas visit, Esthappen and Rahel learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river "graygreen." With fish in it. With the sky and trees in it. And at night, the broken yellow moon in it.

The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it.

The God of Small Things takes on the Big Themes--Love. Madness. Hope. Infinite Joy. Here is a writer who dares to break the rules. To dislocate received rhythms and create the language she requires, a language that is at once classical and unprecedented. Arundhati Roy has given us a book that is anchored to anguish, but fueled by wit and magic.

Paradise Pickles & Preserves

May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun.

The nights are clear, but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation.

But by early June the southwest monsoon breaks and there are three months of wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick walls turn mossgreen. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across the flooded roads. Boats ply in the bazaars. And small fish appear in the puddles that fill the PWD potholes on the highways.

It was raining ...

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Plot Summary:



"May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month."
"Tomorrow."

Between this remarkable novel's first and last sentences, between May 1992 and December 1969, between the freighted present and past elusive hope, Arundhati Roy constructs a tale as far reaching and sensuous as myth, as inescapable as history, as passionate as the loves that impel the members of the Kochamma family to their fates. Told mainly from the perspective of 7-year-old Rahel and Estha, "two-egg twins," and from that of Rahel 23 years later, Roy's story focuses on two tragic events in 1969-the drowning of the twins' 9-year-old Anglo-English cousin, Sophie Mol, and the murder of Velutha, the Untouchable carpenter beloved by the twins and their divorced mother...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
USA Today

Offers such magic, mystery and sadness that, literally, this reader turned the last page and decided to reread it. Immediately. It's that hauntingly wonderful.

USA Today

Offers such magic, mystery and sadness that, literally, this reader turned the last page and decided to reread it. Immediately. It's that hauntingly wonderful.

New York Times Book Review

The quality of Ms. Roy's narration is so extraordinary -- at once so morally strenuous and so imaginatively supple -- that the reader remains enthralled all the way through.

Washington Post Book World

A splendid and stunning debut.

New York Times Book Review

The quality of Ms. Roy's narration is so extraordinary -- at once so morally strenuous and so imaginatively supple -- that the reader remains enthralled all the way through.

Author Blurb John Updike
A novel of real ambition must invent its own language, and this one does.... A Tiger Woodsian debut.

Author Blurb John Updike
A novel of real ambition must invent its own language, and this one does.... A Tiger Woodsian debut.

Reader Reviews
IreneB

Glad I am not the only one who disliked this novel
I read this for my bookclub and only finished it for that reason. It could have been written in a linear way and been a better story for that. Towards the end if the book I ended up having to reread some earlier chapters because I couldn't fit them...   Read More

SVM

Subtle
Those who have rated the book a 1 or 3, should stay away from such material in thier lives since such material is not for thier 'frog in a well' minds. Those who think that the book is a broken down story line should not read nonlinear storylines ...   Read More

yrratykcim

Godless book
I really wanted to enjoy this book and feel like I am bad for not having had a good time at a party without not really knowing why - is it me? The book is really a series of loosely connected short stories which could probably be shuffled and ...   Read More

Marianne V

Love and betrayal
The God of Small Things, the first (and so far, only) novel by Indian writer, Arundhati Roy, was written between 1992 and 1996. This (semi-autobiographical) story takes place in the village of Ayemenem and the town of Kottayam, near Cochin in Kerala,...   Read More

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