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Confusing,
Difficult,
Insightful

8 reviews

The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy

Published: 1998-05-01
Paperback : 336 pages
9 members reading this now
27 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 8 members

The story of the tragic decline of an Indian family whose members suffer the terrible consequences of forbidden love, The God of Small Things is set in the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, the twins Rahel and ...

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Introduction

The story of the tragic decline of an Indian family whose members suffer the terrible consequences of forbidden love, The God of Small Things is set in the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, the twins Rahel and Esthappen fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family -- their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts).

When their English cousin and her mother arrive on a Christmas visit, the twins learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever. The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it.

Editorial Review

In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language.

Excerpt

Paradise Pickles & Preserves

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. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

Questions from the Publisher's Reading Guide:

1. Who -- or what -- is the God of Small Things? What other names and what divine and earthly attributes are associated with this god? What -- or who -- are the Small Things over which this god has dominion, and why do they merit their own god?

2. What are the various laws, rules, and regulations -- familial, social, cultural, political, and religious -- including "the Love Laws," to which Roy makes repeated references?

3. Various dwellings are important to the unfolding of Roy's story. How is each described? To what extent does each embody or reflect the forces and burdens of history, social order, and custom?

4. How does the river that flows through Ayemenem in 1969 differ from the river in 1992? What is its importance in the lives and histories of the two families and in the twins' childhood?

5. To what extent are race, social class, and religion important? What specific elements of each take on predominant importance, and with what consequences? How do the concept and the reality of "the Untouchable" function in the novel?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by [email protected] (see profile) 12/19/19

I kept trying to like this book ..and eventually succeeded once I better understood Arundhatis writing style and intent. What a gifted author!

 
by sltaylor (see profile) 01/12/19

 
by sarahpuckett (see profile) 10/27/15

 
by jodene (see profile) 10/03/14

 
  "A lyrical story of love and family ties "by kidoma (see profile) 10/09/13

 
  "The God of Small Things"by sarasikes (see profile) 05/22/13

Brilliant and unique writing by first time author. Darkly dramatic coming of age story about twins in Indian family. Glad that I read it with book group.

 
  "Unusual Style"by ebach (see profile) 09/06/11

In unusual writing style moving from the end of the story to the middle to the beginning to the end throughout the book, finally ending in the middle, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Thin... (read more)

 
  "The God of Small Things"by crm218 (see profile) 09/28/10

 
  "Interesting and different"by Lacymrn (see profile) 06/29/10

A very different read, but in the end I enjoyed the story. There was a slight cultural barrier for me. The other girls in the book club could not finish the book or did not enjoy it.

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