Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things
A bleak universe with no hope of redemption
What can I say that hasn’t been said, so just my thoughts.
Firstly, she writes so well. And as I had mentioned in Goodreads after reading her short stories, she really has a way with words. She has become better and better and it is obvious that this is her first book because she really throws everything into it. Every trick that authors use to make their book more readable and more appealing. In fact, the first few pages, where she describes Ayemenem and the rains are so good, they can be part of a master-class on writing.
But…the book is so bleak. Any book you read, you would want some redeeming portion, one character who you believe is worth saving and can help bring change, someone who can cut through the morass and bring in some sunlight. In her book we do empathize with Rahel, Estha and Ammu, but they too are flawed, as all human beings are, but somehow are so drawn to the dark that no light is likely to shine through their torturous existence.
Velutha, the God of Small Things perhaps comes across as the only one who is perhaps a “hero” in Roy’s scheme of things, an underdog, a Parawan, who dreams a little more than he should and then pays the price, being kicked to death, like a dog, in his sleep.
You feel terrible at the end of the book. Everyone is villainous or defeated or a passenger on the road from birth to death, with no control, just moving along, swayed by the vagaries of those around them.
I will revisit the book a couple of years from now. I remember not finishing it when it was first published…I found it bleak then and did not get past the first 100 pages. But then the age at which you read I guess matters. Then was different, now is different.