Don’t Read On The Bus

by scoobadoobabambamchooba

-By lam le

Born in southern India in November 24, 1961, Arundhati Roy wrote her first and only book The God of Small Things; which won the Booker Prize, in 1997. After winning the Booker Prize, Roy pursued a life as a political activist, focusing on writing about political issues. Some of her activist works consist of the Narmada Dam project, nuclear weapons in India and the activities of Enron in India.  As well, Roy is a spokesperson for the anti-globalization/alter-globalization movement and critic of neo-imperialism.  Writing from her home in New Delhi, Roy has continued to exclusively write for social causes, such as The End of Imagination, which is a critique of India’s nuclear policies (Arundhati).

Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things chronicles the Kochamma family set in India, amid the political decade of British post colonialism. Opening on the funeral day of Sophie Mol’s death, the novel is filled with scores of meandering plots including politics, class structure and forbidden love.

Sophie Mol, daughter to Chacko and Margaret, is depicted with European values connecting a non-Indian name, Sophie, to an Indian name, Mol; unlike her cousins Rahel and Esthappen (Estha) Kochamma. Hence, Roy is able symbolize Sophie as a personal adaptation of her judgment about British post colonialism in India. Sophie’s death also becomes a catalyst to other mini-narratives such as her mother’s resentment towards her niece and nephew: Rahel and Estha. As well, Sophie’s death adds to the emotional and physical abuse to Estha; which makes him very silent and distant. As well, Estha’s trauma develops from other occurrences such as the “Orangedrink Lemondrink” man and being manipulated by his aunt, Navomi “Baby” Ipe Kochamma, to wrongfully blame Velutha; who becomes Ammu’s lover (Mother to Estha and Rahel). As Roy stylishly writes indirectly about her political views, Velutha becomes a symbol for Communism.

The God of Small Things is written very artistically. However, I found the story difficult to read unless in a reading mood. If I sat down and focused solely on the story, the many narratives and supporting characters would be easier to follow. The concealed references such as Indian history, class relation and forbidden love are great subject matters and Roy’s ability to entwine all the topics together is impressive. The narrative is written in third person, mostly following the perspective of Rahel. As a little girl, Rahel’s point of view reflects a different choice of words and attitude to details, opposed to an adult whom would describe ideas or objects differently. Still, I found Rahel’s descriptions too wordy and the transitions tedious between the many narratives.

Although filled with meaningful subject matter, I found God of Small Things not a book easily picked up and read: too wordy and descriptions tiring to follow.  


Works Cited

“Arundhati Roy.”  We. Featuring The Words of Arundhati Roy. 2006. 8 March 2009 <>

Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. Toronto: Random House of Canada, 1997



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