The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.”
The God of Small Things, at its core, is a portrait of India. Roy paints a picture of a country that is still finding its way post colonization – a country that bears countless bruises and scars from occupation, remnants of which leave gaping divides between the people.
The “Love Laws” dictating who one can love and how they can love are a large focus of this story, but the true center of this tale is a family. At the start of this story, Rahel and Esthappen are two children swathed with innocence amidst the turmoil brewing in their home state of Kerala. As they grow up, the reader witnesses this innocence stripped from them as they become victims to the lingering wounds and loose ends of the world in which they exist.
The praise for Arundhati Roy’s prose is certainly not unfounded. She grounds the reader in 1959 Kerala with powerful imagery and builds an acute sense of anticipation that only expands as the novel progresses, deepening into a strong feeling of inevitability and suspense that is only emphasized more with the nonlinear timeline.
It is impossible to read this book without feeling as though you are on the edge of your seat, a lump in your throat as you wait for the spool to unravel.
The God of Small Things is remarkable in its ability to highlight the Small Things, but it is entirely transcendent in its accomplishment of uncovering the Big Things.
“The fact that something so fragile, so unbearably tender had survived, had been allowed to exist, was a miracle.”