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The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

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Author: Arundhati Roy / Genre: Fiction

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      16.09.2011 08:32
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      must read

      Roy has a particular style of writing that differs enormously from the norm. She admits herself that she doesn't understand the rules of English grammar and doesn't want to and this gives an exciting read.

      The issues tackled within the novel of race, gender and even incest however are not for the prudish but if you can get over the fact that these issues are raised within the novel then I would certainly recommend it to all readers out there. Me and my friends all read it at the same time and because of the strong themes I was the only one who enjoyed it I think.

      It is an inspiring tale that will keep you wondering and guessing about what will happen next the descriptions really suck you into the story. This book well deserves all the acclaim it has received you definitely won't read another book like it this year.

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        22.03.2010 17:53
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        Great book. Read it before you die.

        I have picked this book up so many times, but only got round to reading it as I am making my way through the 1001 books to read before you die list. Without a doubt, this belongs on that list. I would say particularly so if you are a creative writer keen to explore various writing techniques.

        About the plot:

        In essence, the book centres around a boy and a girl (twins) and their part in a family tragedy, the tale then unpicks all the small things that make up this tragedy, and the connections that are made and broken along the way. A fairly simple plot, made interesting by a fractured structure, and the padding out of the history and motivations of all the family members.

        About the writing:

        The wealth of writing techniques employed here is quite simply astounding, in a fairly short book (340 pages): metaphors (extended and simple), similes, contrasts, poetry, recurring themes (developed and adjusted), pseudo words and phrases, flowing and descriptive prose, childlike rhythm. The list goes on and on. However, this never feels forced or overly smart for the sake of it, and the flow of the book incorporates this style seamlessly, as if there were no other way for the story to be told. Imagery is beautifully painted and the brushed over to reveal the complete portrait.
        Ideas and opinions are to be found in abundance too: communism and the inconsistency of its' protagonists, police brutality, the caste system and it's inflexibility to allow free will of lovers, the inevitability of fate/history which will be written and the relevant price paid. Again these are interwoven into the story, and all of it is relevant.
        You could probably dedicate a whole series of workshops to how these techniques are employed, and how effective they are. However, what this book manages to do is to be far bigger than the sum of these parts. It is a technically accomplished novel, and yet it remains a beautiful tale which rewards the reader in a variety of ways.

        Summary:

        If you like any of the following, and are prepared to pay attention, you will probably find them in this book to some degree:
        Laughter, irony, horror, filth, beauty, tragedy, good writing, childhood memories, ideology, bitterness, unrequited love...etc...

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          31.01.2009 22:12
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          worth reading novel

          With changing time english literature is welcoming and getting enriched by alot of asian literature as well as literature from the third world countries. God of small things is one such piece of art. It is one of the finest fictional works by Rundhati roy. She is now a outspoken political worker. For this reason we cant separate the poltical tinge from this novel of hers.
          It was published in 1997. It is also a winner of a booker prize in 1997 for this novel. The writer is a screen play writer. She is also a women rights activist. She is a outspoken protestor of the atrocities of the west especially in Iran, Palistine and Afghanistan. For this stance of hers and she was also awarded with the Lannan cultural freedom prize.
          The only semi political novel of hers was partly autobiographical also. She tried to envisage her life in the village of Ayamanen while narrating it in the novel. The story revolves arounf two fraternal twins and their mother. The story revolves and shifts from 1960's to 90's from the childhood period of the two seven year old children Rahel and Estha to when they were thirty. Estha can be compared with Ms. Roy. As they were fraternal twins thats why they were not linked physically but also spiritually. Through the word play and strong atmosphere. Ms. Roy has created an environment that makes the reader feel strong spiritual aroma around their life. The village life is depicted beautifully. You can actually feel the darkness and grimness of the jungle and woods at the night. A very strong feeling and vision that I continously had during the reading of this novel is that of a sweaty dark place in the village. The characters are very diverse in this novel. The names are very traditional and are taken out of the same soil. The character of the uncle and the aunt are very interesting. though the uncle was a rhode and oxford scholar.
          there was this incident that really touched my hearta dn also show the deep spiritual connection between the brother and sister. In this incident the brother was abused sexually by a juice selling man but the sister sitting inside the cinema also felt the same abuse as she was undergoing the same pain.
          The twins I believe are the incarnation of anima and animus theory. As they both are united and are the opposite of each other. Though they were separated brutally by their aunt but they were again united in the end of the novel. And the novel end with this scene when they were both sleeping together on the same bed as two small childrens.
          In this novel Ms. Roy is at her best. The title is very much related to the plot as the child consider her mother's lover as the god who gives the two twins small happiness when ever they meet them. They needed such god all their life. As the small and simple things really mattered in their life.
          Its a novel worth reading and enjoying. The novel gives us the idea how Ms. Roy has painstakenly described every small thing as every little thing or incident is really important for the overall plot.

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          30.07.2008 23:43

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          A family living in India, the story of how they became what they are now

          This book is one of the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, and I can see why. The story is of a family in India who have suffered tragedies that aren't revealed until very late in the book, we are told early on that the girl Sophie Mol dies but we don't know how or why it had such a huge impact on the rest of the family's lives. The majority is about the twins, one boy and one girl, who are seperated as children and then reunited in their thirties, though there are many off shoots about others members of the family.
          The book is told completely out of order so important details are cleverly hidden from us yet teasingly mentioned as the story slowly untangles. It was beautifully written, I can see why it gets much of the praise is does, although some parts left me a bit bored or confused, especially when it talked about politics, a topic which tends to pass completely over my head. This was quite good but not something I would want to read again. My mother enjoyed it much more than I did.

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          26.03.2008 13:01

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          This novel graps us,readers, in a sort of weirdness abt family ties.Roy has well depicted the south indian culture interweaving the routine indian life,sex,social castes n discrimination.The constant flashbacks in the novel pictures the beauty of the contemporary literature.i would recommend this book...absolutely!!

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          19.07.2007 12:03
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          A deaerving Booker winner, this is a magical and suspence filled drama set in post collonial India.

          Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things was published in 1996. It quickly became a best seller and won the Booker prize in 1997. I first read the book in 2000 after it was recommended by a friend who was studying it as part of her English Literature Degree. The same friend went on to conduct her Literature MA into this book. I read the book again recently and it was just as wonderful as I first recall.

          The God of Small Things is written from the perspective of 'two egg' boy and girl twins, Esthappen Yako (known as Estha) and Rahel, who recount the story of their childhood in India.

          The book opens with Rahel's return to their childhood home of Ayemenem in Kerela, for the first time in 23 years, after her emigration to America. She goes to meet her brother, Estha, who no longer speaks as a result of a traumatic event which occurred during their childhood and led to their separation and her eventual emigration.

          The book tells the events that led to that fateful day in 1969.

          The twins grow up with their mother, Ammu and Baby Kochamma, their grandfather's sister. They are raised in their grandparent's house, following their mother's divorce from their father, with whom they have no contact. They are generally a well off family and the family business is the production of jam in a local factory. The God of Small Things tells of their daily life and the trials and tribulations faced in a discriminating society, highly governed by traditional customs and boundaries.

          Ultimately The God of Small Things is a book which deals with the cultural dilemmas of post-colonial India. The novel is rich with Indian family and social customs and politics, particularly the disruption of the Indian caste system and the prejudices faced by those defined as the 'untouchables' and the shame brought upon Ammu's family when her husband abruptly left them.

          Arundhati Roy writes using a wonderfully poetic and descriptive language and the book is a joy to read. I savored every page and it is a book I will never part with. The God of Small Things is full of suspense, mystery and drama using a narrative which weaves between the past to the present, always hinting at the disaster which marks the books climax. Bizarrely there are a plethora of ordinary words starting with capital letters and a number of Indian terms (for example the use of 'mol' for girl and 'mon' for boy) used throughout. This style takes a little while to get used to but overall it just adds to the magic and the intrigue invoked in this book.


          The God of Small Things has created a name for itself as a classic novel and it is sure to be loved and re-read for decades to come. I imagine you would appreciate this book if you have enjoyed the works of authors such as Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez. I can also liken the book to those such as Memoirs of a Geisha and The Poisonwood Bible.

          Arundhati Roy was born in 1961 in Shillong. She left home at 16 and initially lived in a squatters' camp selling empty beer bottles. She then studied architecture in Delhi. Roy became interested in the arts under the influence of her second second husband, filmmaker Pradeep Kishen. Roy began writing The God of Small Things in 1992 and finished it in 1996. The book has been sold in 21 countries and is semi-autobiographical, partly based on her childhood in Kerala, the only place in the world where Christianity, Hinduism, Marxism and Islam collide. Roy has since involved herself in non-fiction and politics, publishing collections of essays and working for social causes, sadly she has not written any other novels to match The God of Small Things.

          In summary this is a wondeful, magical book, one of only a handful that I have read twice and one that I will never part with. I throughougly recommend this book and in my mind it receives an easy five out of five. I hope you enjoy it too.

          The God of small things is 336 pages long in paperback and is broken into 21 chapters. It is published by Harper Perennial and the ISBN is 0060977493. The retail price is £6.99 but like all books this can easily be purchased online for much cheaper.

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            20.06.2007 15:34
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            Arundhati's first novel

            I read this book some years ago now and it remains one of my favourite novels.


            The God of Small Things was Arundhati Roy's first novel for which she gained worldwide recognition and success. The story is an imaginative interwoven narrative that mixes light humour with a deeper underlying leitmotif. Like many great works of fiction this is a story of a family with a secret that gradually unfolds with devastating consequences as the novel progresses. Most of the drama takes place in 1969 in the Roy's native Indian State of Kerala. The family consist of upper caste Syrian Christians who own a pickle factory and the story is told mostly as witnessed through the eyes of two children, a brother and his twin sister. We are confronted with many of the grand themes of literature: religion, class, caste, taboo and revolutionary politics and the damage wrought by hypocrisy in relation to each of these. But these themes are woven so subtly as expressed through the eyes of the two children that any political message is not thrown on your face.

            I found this a gripping story with vivid descriptions of Indian culture, society and landscape, It is a never ending pleasure to read Arundhati Roy's lyrical prose and wry humour dominate her narration. She has an extremely inventive use of language that captures and reveals a childhood with all its fears and contradictions.

            She uses metaphors that pour out across the page, moving the reader into her own creative world. Although sometimes the descriptions might be tedious, the gentle release of details transfers an itense experience of revulsion to the reader when the final events are fully revealed. There is also the beautiful way that Roy interlaces the past and present, that helps to put the firmly in their environments.

            A great read that I would highly recommend as an introduction to Roy’s work and as a novel in itself that acts as a gateway to Indian culture.

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              23.06.2006 16:48
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              Awesome. Life altering.

              This book is spellbinding!

              Set in India, and focusing on a family, and a misfortunate incident which occurs.

              I never thought I would enjoy this book as much as I did, given that most of my friends didn't get past the first page...

              But I would class this book as my favourite book of all time!

              The incident mentioned above occurs at the very beginning of the book, although from the haze surrounding the narrative, the reader is left wondering as to exactly what has occurred. Little clues are littered throughout the book, which tease the reader into trying to guess the fate of one of the characters.

              The whole book builds up to the incident, so is mainly set in the past.

              The whole style of the book is so unique and so beautiful, that I cannot understand how anyone could fail to adore this book!

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                02.02.2003 23:43
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                This book is so unlike anything I have ever read before, and is everything I would aspire to as a writer. This is the example I will constantly compare to, the standard by which anything I ever write will have to be held up to. Though this is probably a useless aspiration since I doubt anyone but Arundhati Roy could create what she has with this book. To try and emulate her would be fruitless, since she has invented a truly unique voice, a genuinely new language. 'The God of Small Things' won the 1997 Booker Prize and was Roy's debut novel, so I guess this review is a little late, but despite the fact I know I sound like a gushing publicist, I have to recommend this book to everyone I possibly can. The story is set in India, and revolves around one family. At the centre of this family is Ammu and her two-egg twins, Rahel and Estha. To try and explain what happens in this book would be to ruin it, for it is how the twins develop and grow, how they percieve the world around them and their personal thoughts that forms the basis of this book. The descriptions are effortless, not too much, nor are you left looking for more detail. A great author provides the reader with everything they need to know without overloading the adjectives. Roy does this perfectly, managing to not only set the scene and give us the picture, but also view through the eyes of the central characters. There is always a danger when children are the focus of a book, that writing from their perspective limits what can be done with a scene. Writing from a childs viewpoint is extremely difficult to maintain, can end up cliched or far too mature to be believable, but Roy approaches the challenge with a completely different style. We are not reading first person, which immediately frees up the writing, yet the reader gets totally involved with the character. I can't stress enough how this approach is so completely different to anything you will have read before: R
                oy does not write 'she thought this, she thought that', she doesn't explain her characters' thought processes and emotions, she simply notes their reactions, notes what they notice: the small things, the kind of things a child picks up on and dwells on, the chains of thought these small things can spark. This is where the beauty and pure skill of the book really lies: in the small things. We are taken into India, into gorgeous scenery and startling exotic imagery. It isn't hard to imagine you are there, standing with Estha and Rahel in the heavy heat, seeing what they see and encountering all they do. The only people I could ever think would not enjoy this are those who cannot read. But I'm sure you could find an audio book somewhere! This book is beautiful, Roy's language is beautiful and for me, very few others could match it. Too often new writers try too hard to be contemporary, to be 'different' and end up just like all the other writers trying to be the same thing, but in Arundhati Roy we truly have a unique author, and can say in all honesty that she has invented an entirely new style, one that is her own and will undoubtedly survive as such.

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                  29.04.2002 22:45
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                  It seems I'm going against the grain a bit here, but I didn't enjoy this book as much as I hoped and others who have reviewed it here did. Others have described the plot and the characters on these pages in close detail, so I won't duplicate, however I did find 'The God of Small Things' quite difficult to get into - not an ideal read on the train or tube! Although it was beautifully written and very evocative, I just couldn't relate to the main characters, either as children or adults and ultimately found it a quite depressing read. Because of this I have to admit I never felt fully absorbed in the plot and some sections rather uncomfortable to read, such as Esthappen's abuse in the cinema. However, despite this I would recommend it to a friend, who had the time to sit down quietly to read, so they could concentrate fully on the plot and do it justice. Having read comments made by other members since I first posted this review, I will definitely make the effort to re-read the book!

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                    21.08.2001 09:09
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                    this book is unspeakably beautiful. the tale it presents is horrifying, moving, beautiful and painful, and it is told with such flourish and wordplay. roy paints such a vivid picture in this novel of the land, the plants and the people that it is hard to leave the book. you can almost smell mangos in the air. id recomend this book to anyone. its sweet sadness, and innocence juxtaposed with worldlyness reduced me to tears. go on, buy it.

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                      12.05.2001 14:05
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                      As I write about this book, Iam a wee bit embarrassed. For one, I should have read this classic earlier, much earlier. Secondly no reviews or praise can actually do justice to this masterpiece. Even here the word ‘Masterpiece’ becomes an understatement. Arundhati Roy, an author blessed by ‘The God of Small Things’, with an ability to make the cold, bland language of English sound magical and triumphant, writes an entire book filled with emotions, feelings neatly and effectively sculpted with the use of words. Chew on these phrases for now. Chocolate is stickysweet and meltybrown. Bluegreyblue eyes snap A Wake, A Lert. Truths lie off the beaten path, lurking in shadow to transform the reader from tourist to traveller, from voyeur to intrepid explorer. The book is a journey through time. A journey of a family and those who make a family. The book is a collage of experiences, with a hint, at times, of autobiographical wisdom. Every occasion and happening, described subtly and sublimely albeit effectively with words and phrases, captivating the situation as life would. The book does not have a sequence. It merges the past and the present, memories and reality, weaving them together effortlessly, taking us through the lives of the people who live them. The book is a journey of two young people, twins by birth, from a bittersweet childhood to an adulthood moulded by one bitter incident. Characters, the kind of people we see, feel and smell everyday fleet in and out of the book and the lives of the twins. As you read the book, you live the lives of the people you read about. You experience the chemistry, feel the joys and the passion, adore the loves, sing the songs, cry the tears, fear the fears, experience the pain, smell the scents, enjoy the backwaters of Kerala. You become the characters, a new character with every new line. The book, in its own understated way, comments and analyses the transition
                      of the Kerala of the sixties to the Kerala of today. The patriarchal families, third world communism, caste barriers, satellite television, nothing escapes the writers eye. What sets the book apart for other recent Indian fiction is that unlike its contemporaries, all the richness of the tale with all its verbal jugglery comes in a neat, compact and small book. On the last page you are still a part of the story. You still want to turn another page. You till want to read more. Feel more. This is a book that probably formed and wrote itself. The author, I felt, just held the pen.

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                        30.09.2000 20:28
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                        This is a beautifully written book which is a delight to read. Roy invites us into the world of a well to do family in India which literally falls apart. Roy's storytelling is interesting as she skips back and forth in time and practically reveals the ending at the beginning. The story is haunting and she uses evocative language to increase sympathy for the main charcters, the two twins who are forced apart by the death of their cousin Sophie Mol. This book had a great effect on me as it was so simply told that you just get swept away with it.

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                          24.08.2000 05:51
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                          Arundhati Roy burst into the literary scene with this novel, scooping the Booker Prize effortlessly in 1997. Now I always approach Booker prize novels with trepidation. They somehow never live up to the hype. I am happy to say that 'The God of small things' not only lives upto its hype but also surpasses all expectations. I am qualified to nitpick this book because I've been to the places she mentions and I still have relatives who live in Kerala. I was ready to take this book apart with an insiders toothcomb and show up its weak innards. Trouble is, I couldn't find any fault. Instead I found myself enjoying every minutiae, reminiscing with Roy's story about life in Kerala, identifying with all the well drawn characters, page after page. I felt like I was travelling back to Kerala with a friend, sharing moments of nostalgia, emoting with every chapter: laughing, getting angry, shedding tears. Roy achieves something of a literary fireworks display in every sentence. She uses words to the maximum effect and conjures up such magical passages, that you can't but help falling in love with the prose. It is hard to sell eastern fiction to the west, especially a book that is so soaked in local culture and tradition. But she succeeds immaculately. From its magical opening sequence, the story leads you into delight after delight, cataloguing the tragic fate of a family 'that tampered with the law that lay down who should be loved, and how'. From the grandmother Mammachi; the anglophile son Chacko; the daughter Ammu..the Twins Estha and Rahel each character is sketched with affection and an eye for the most intimate detail, it is hard not to feel for them. You could almost smell the rain, admire the lush greenery and taste the spicy local cooking. Wherever you come from, this book will touch you. You don't have to now anything about India or Kerala to enjoy this. Most of all Arundhati Roy achie
                          ves the impossible: marrying an epic narrative to intimate personal emotions. The scale and scope are enviable. The end result is sheer magic. Go get it , NOW!

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                        • Product Details

                          Winner of the Booker Prize 1997. Set against a background of political turbulence in Kerala, this novel tells the story of twins Esthappen and Rahel and their family.