The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy Book Review


This novel takes a little bit of getting used to. Much like swimming, you sort of have to wade your way in, get used the temperature, and then you can plunge fully forward.  It’s mostly Roy’s writing style.  It’s different – but something that takes some time to be considered Different.  Capital D – as in so Different that this is amazing and blowing my mind.  Because it definitely becomes that.  Another good fact to know: this author is awesome.  She is Indian and is an extremely outspoken human rights activist.  She also won the 1998 Man Booker Prize for Fiction with this novel… and it is much deserved.

The Good: The actual writing.  As stated before, it is Different and unique.  My use of the capital D also fits in perfectly with Roy’s style.  She capitalizes freely, not following the rules that dictate only proper nouns get the capital letter treatment.  I was once told by a creative writing professor that good authors can break the rules…. but that they do so for a reason.  Roy is not without her reasons, as she capitalizes the important things.  These are not the big things, mind you, but the Small Things.  The story is also told in a very fragmented way.  I felt like I was never entirely sure what was happening until the absolute end.  An ending that was, I am just going to point out, pretty disturbing, but seemingly a trend in the literary world today… I am looking at you George R. R. Martin.  You’ll get it if you read or watch Game of Thrones and then finish this novel as well.

The book is overall dazzling in its prose and in its content/message.  Like any good novel by a  political activist, this book is loaded with political and social scrutiny.  In fact, the whole plot can be boiled down to what Roy finds distasteful about India’s society, although it is done in a symbolic and beautiful way with her actual writing.  The setting itself is also refreshing.  Although I read a lot, I tend to find novels that take place in either the UK or the USA, so India was a nice change of pace.  I also enjoyed the names of all the characters even though I am sure I was totally off in my mental pronunciation.

The Bad:  This book takes dedication.  It is hard for me to type that because the book is so beautifully written, so I don’t want to discourage people from reading it, but I know that not everyone is going to love this book.  Still, I argue that it is worth the read, just to challenge yourself a little bit with something new.

The Verdict:  If you are looking for something lighthearted and quick to read, this is not for you.  It took me awhile to get through the book, even with the beautiful writing, and there are some pretty dark subject matters that come to play.  Things that could never be called pleasant.

This book is wonderful though, when all said an done.  It will be a bit challenging at first, but if you are open to that I think you will love this novel.

Written by Rachel B.

Rachel is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She recently graduated with a degree in English. Presently, she writes, reads, and then reads and writes some more, with a giant and ever-present mug of green tea in her hand. Follow Rachel @rrbindl and DNFB @not4birds