I first read The God of Small Things back in 2002. At the time I was at the bookstore and I had a split shift, meaning that from 1 :30 til 4:00 i had ample time to sit and read. I remember those cold February days when I’d plonk myself on a bench with my sandwich and just read sizable chunks of books, while staring at the sea now and then.
When finished reading this eight years ago I was happy that I read it but could not really see the fuss about it.
As we jump into the future and I finish reading it for a second time, my ‘like’ for this novel has increased into a ‘love’
Estha and Rahel are twins (male and female) who have decided to meet again after a very long absence. As they are wandering in their old house a flood of memories start reappearing. Mostly about how their half Indian cousin drowned and the fate of their carpenter who rebelled against his caste (this happened in the 60’s). Apparently these incidents affect Estha badly for throughout the parts of the book which take place in 1990’s India , he is a mute who obsessively washes his clothes.
This is the focal point of The God of Small Things. Roy criticizes the caste system and very savagely. However this is all told through the eyes of Estha and Rahel, who are children at the time so us readers see an innocent viewpoint of some very serious matters. Roy portrays 1960’s India as a corrupt country that is rigid due to the caste system. Mind you the sections which deal with modern-day India is no less forgiving.
One can also say this is a book about love but to go into detail about this aspect will spoil the novel. All I can say that love definitely shapes the destinies of the characters of this book , for better or for worse (mostly the latter)
The writing is reminiscent of Rushdie, There is liberal use of puns , wordplay and words spelt and pronounced in childish jargon, whereas Rushdie can appear a bit lofty doing this, Roy brings it down to Earth. Her style also does mutate throughout the book, especially during the last chapter which is indescribably beautiful, not to mention her eye for detail.
While re reading this book, I was amazed at the amount that I had forgotten, including some major scenes so I’m glad that I went through this a second time for it is indeed a modern classic.