REVIEWER: Tall, Short, Tiny & a Pickle
It’s been a number of years since I first read The God of Small Things, and in order to write this review, I had to flick through a few pages to reacquaint myself with the story. After choosing a few pages at random, I soon found myself lost in the magical world that Arundhati Roy has created, and an hour passed before I surfaced for air.
The opening paragraphs set an amazing scene; Roy’s ability to capture the everyday so profoundly is evident throughout the entire story. The reader is captured and consumed by her descriptive passages – it is too easy to imagine the scenes as they unfold, given Roy’s astounding skill at awakening every sense, so we smell, see, hear, touch and taste everything the characters smell, see, hear, touch and taste.
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.
The God of Small Things is a little bit magical. Roy has created a reality that is unlike any I’ve read before – it is beautiful, painful, exquisite and yet far more real than any other novel I’ve read. Jason Cowley (The Times) is quoted on the dust cover of my copy as saying, “She has a heightened awareness of the natural world, of smells and sounds, of colour and light…” and I think he has captured the writer perfectly. Her gift to weave such a tale rewards the reader with something like a sensory explosion – Roy manages to capture life and the mostly mundane in the most sensationally poetic way.
It is a witty novel, with so much passion and humour threaded throughout:
She subscribed wholeheartedly to the commonly held view that a married daughter had no position in her parents’ home. As for a divorced daughter – according to Baby Kochamma, she had no position anywhere at all. And as for a divorced daughter from a love marriage, well, words could not describe Baby Kochamma’s outrage. As for a divorced daughter from an intercommunity love marriage – Baby Kochamma chose to remain quiveringly silent on the subject.
The God of Small Things is a novel about love, life and death. It is about relationships and the unseen, intangible forces that draw two people together, as well as the bonds within and between a family. It is about forbidden love and consequences, about society and class. All of these themes are weaved through a beautiful, poignant tale, forming a novel that is nearly impossible to put down.
A highly recommended, unforgettable read.