Through detailed description, Arundhati Roy transports the reader immediately into the vibrant, exotic world of India. A cacophony of plant life surrounds the home of the Ayemennen family, bursting with mango and papaya sweltering in the sticky heat. Despite the wondrous backdrop however, Roy has a powerful message to give, that even paradise isn’t safe from the violence perpetrated by humanity. Nature may be beautiful, but it holds no place for the innocent.
The God of Small Things bears a powerful narrative, intermixing the purity of childhood with the horrors of the world. Roy’s use of sing-song Malayalam alongside the frequent adoption of youthful perspectives work to emphasise the tragedy of this story; how two young twins attempted to be children in an unforgiving world.
Though difficult to follow at times, Roy’s irregular narrative consistently intrigues and abhors, flitting from the safety of the norm to the brutal nature of the shocking. Revelations are formed achingly slowly, however this only adds to their impact, as Roy leaves the reader wondering how so innocent a narrative could bear such cruelty. This is certainly a powerful read, emphasising the fragile nature of the young mind, and how it can easily be affected by careless adult hands.
Throughout the novel a range of characters come to life as voluptuously as the vegetation, casting a poor portrayal of humanity’s tendency towards selfishness and spite. Racial prejudice and harsh realities for many within India are sadly portrayed as simple fact, as Roy progresses her gentle yet inherently disturbing narrative. In life, everyone has their burdens to bear, a fact Roy surely tragically emphasises within her beautiful prose.
The God of Small Things considers race, family, politics and above all the cost of each of these upon the innocent.
Length: 340 (flamingo)
Overall Rating: 4 stars
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