Arundhati Roy delivers Big

by daanishali

Daanish Ali

The God of Small Things is a politically charged and deliciously complex story based on the rural life in Kerala, India. Arundhati Roy, the first time novelist and Booker Prize winner, tells a story in vivid detail of one twin’s (Rahel), journey to rediscover her relationship with her family. Roy’s impressionable use of language transgresses India’s socially acceptable lifestyle and as a result delivers an achievement of a lifetime.

The book jumps back and forth from adulthood to childhood, which Roy separates by chapter. Focusing on Rahel and her twin brother Estha’s accounts as children, Roy uses an approach of childhood innocence to question a life that may become mundane in adulthood. Rahel and Estha were once attached at the hip and ready to take on the world, but after a series of ill events, most notably the death of a cousin and years of separation, their relationship has little similarities to what it once was.

The God of Small Things is filled with uncomfortable and compromising positions that the reader is forced to endure in order to embrace the essence of the story. Roy, however, still manages to keep the audience engaged. Certainly at moments she pushes boundaries, but she never ruins the integrity of the story, saving it with her wit and clever metaphors. It’s soon apparent that Roy’s skills as a writer allow her to put meaning in the most undesirable of circumstances.

Roy has many targets in her path during the novel. Criticizing history, religion, race and the caste system, her tool of choice is: love, or lack thereof. The “Love Laws”, as she refers to them, become the discriminatory jury on who should share the privilege of love. No one is exempt from the love laws in the story regardless of status. The Kochamma’s (Rahel and Estha’s family) are of an upper caste, and yet, they are forbidden to love as is displayed in the scenario between Ammu (their mother) and a local untouchable, Velutha. As Roy describes in the closing line of chapter one, “The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much. “

Roy’s representation of reality in The God of Small Things is honorable and  daring allowing her to deliver big in her first novel. The suspense, critic and fragility that Roy displays through her words and characters formulate a raw imagery that connect with the people. The sincerity of Roy’s words is exactly what the readers will desire and is what will keep them reading.


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