Book review: The God of Small Things

25 October 2014 | by PettiCourtyard Authors

the-god-of-small-things-jacket    Timeless as it is, The God of Small Things could sparkle forever for its language and style as much as, unfortunately, for the aberrations of human society elaborated within.


When PettiCourtyard discussed the 1997 Booker Prize winner at its recent meeting, almost two decades after it was written, the first and the common criticism of the book was: ‘It’s timeless. I can relate with it.’ And the consensus was well-founded.


The book tells the story of a well-educated, affluent family which succumbs to the faults in our culture, the faults of untouchability, gender discrimination, domestic violence, violence against women, sexual abuse of children, casteism etc.


The God of Small Things is the story of twins – Rahel and Estha – and their mother Ammu, and of the big family they were supposed to be a part of but which never accepted them because Ammu, a Christian, had married a Hindu and had got divorced and returned home unwelcome. Ammu’s brother, Chacko, on the other hand, had married, divorced, returned and had been given a free hand in running his mother Mammachi’s successful pickle business which he soon rendered unsuccessful. He was also ‘allowed’, by his mother and his aunt, Baby Kochamma, to have relationships with lower caste servant women at his office.


Ammu, even as she was never welcome in that family, when she fell in love with an ‘untouchable’ man, had to pay heavily. And it happens through a vicious web concocted by her aunt Baby Kochamma with a violent support from her brother Chacko and a silent support from her mother Mammachi, the same Mammachi who, as a housewife and then as a successful businesswoman, had been beaten up for years by her husband. After his retirement, his wife’s professional success made him jealous and it worked like fuel for his violence every night when he picked up a vase and threw a fit.


The language used by author Arundhati Roy is easily futuristic. The story develops like a play in your head. While you read the intense situation of child sexual abuse in the chapter Abhilash Talkies, you hear How do you keep a wave upon the sand? / Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maree…yah? playing in your head from somewhere far away as the sound of lemon drink bubbles cloud the air thick.


The story moves smoothly without getting loud even in intense moments but leaves your soul in a turmoil which, perhaps, will never settle. If you still haven’t had the time to read it, PettiCourtyard feels you may not want to put it off for another day anymore.



What to Do!

If you, or a woman or women around you, are subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other atrocities at home or anywhere else, here is what you can do.

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