“The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t”. These are the lines from the iconic book God Of Small Things which was first published 25 years ago today
It stands out as the first and only book to win the Man Booker prize by a half Malayali-Bengali writer Arundathi Roy. It is much closer to the hearts of Malayalis as it is set against the backdrop of a small village named Aymanam in the Alappuzha district.
Why is God Of Small Things Phenomenal?
The book is one of the most exceptional stories which elaborates the plot in an original way. It is inspired by the lives and experiences of people around. In a way, it couldn’t be compared to any other form of writing. The poetic prose and incredible metaphors rush through our minds like the meenachil river gushing through its once splendid watercourse – through thick and thin, through the valleys and forests of the lives of each character.
You can get your copy of God of Small Things here.
Inheritance of Innocence
The writer doesn’t try to invent philosophy for the sake of it. Rather, she brings the reality that gives meaning to life’s greatest philosophies. Seen through the wide eyes of the two egged twins, Estha and Rahel, it presents the whole story with idealistic details and innocence, which will be missed if seen through the chaotic mind of an adult. Some connotations like “Orange juice lemon juice man” and “a cold moth with dense dorsal tufts” are examples of the alternate angle through which a child abuser and broken heart sink deep into any reader’s mind.
Each character is sculptured in a way that we admire them irrespective of their flaws. We sympathize with their fate even when the wicked ones wile out strategies for selfish reasons.
Ammu, Baby Kochamma, Chacko, Kochu Maria, Velutha, Sophie Mol, Mammachi, Pappachi, Comrade Pillai, and more and more characters root their position in a focused fashion so that it reminds us of someone or the other from our own lives.
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The scenic beauty and structural description in many novels are beautiful but the relatability factor in God of Small Things for a Malayali is far greater here. Whether it be meenachil, Periyar, Bharathapuzha, or Neyyar, the scenic rendering is incredible and comprehensible in a manner like a deep secret acknowledged by us, the native people.
Society is a … (Joji will fill the rest)
The stereotypical conditioning and casteism is a reality and it is explained in this novel honestly. Perceptions from every character and how they were conditioned to believe this rotten system are clearly explained. There are many instances where they’ve questioned the whole systemic control. The fate inflicted on Velutha was never due to his fault but due to this system.
It will not justify the novel if the subtle yet clearly pictured gender politics is not pointed out. The dichotomy of the sexual life followed by Ammu and Chacko is described as the most striking factor of the discrimination faced due to gender differences. Not just that, the unhealthy relationship between mammachi and pappachi which needed a break was never acknowledged by her but the somewhat same toxicity of unhealthy relationship was uprooted in the case of Chacko and Margaret Kochamma.
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How will a story set in Kerala be complete if not talked about communism and Marxist ideologies? The red flag and green revolution play a major role in their lives too.
This is the soul-spirit of the whole story which you need to find out for yourself. Once you find it, it’s going to scar you forever.
Special mention to “The Sound Of Music”, a beautiful musical classic movie that would have been missed over time if it wasn’t for this novel.
A writer with exceptional narration skills, Arundathi Roy owes her detailed description skills to the years she spent studying Architecture. It helped her with observation and detailing. The style of narration doesn’t follow a linear way either. It begins at the end and ends in the middle as the writer says. The same narration and detailing skills is what was appreciated the most too.
A.Roy’s brilliant polemicist approach has always landed the writer in a lot of difficult situations. Here too, this novel brought some sensitive topics to light which in turn offended a lot of people. A Syrian Christian lawyer filed a suit against the writer for corrupting public morality. The confusing reference on incest relationship also became a topic for discussion.
Considering all the factors in this piece of fiction, God Of Small Things is a heart-breaking yet eye-opening work of art that shows us “To find joy in the saddest places to pursue beauty to its layer.”
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