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The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy Review

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things is the first book by the author Arundhati Roy written in 1997. Arundhati is among the few authors who get to achieve the highest recognition with their first book itself which otherwise many authors slog throughout their life to get it. The book went on to win the prestigious Man Booker prize in the same year.

After writing her first book Arundhati took nearly 20 years to write another book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness which was published recently. Surprisingly, even I waited for 20 years to read her first book. And after reading the book I am glad that I waited for so long to get my hands on it. You need to have a certain level of maturity to actually understand and enjoy the book.


The story is about Rahel and Estha were distressed and depressed twins. The desire to live the life has sucked out of them. Estha is shown as deadly silent, and Rahel carries a bleak look in her eyes. As young children they were like any other kids full of life and energy, but one fateful incident destroyed them completely. 

So what exactly transpired is a mystery which author has cruelly and craftily kept it wrapped till the climax, just dropping hints here and there which were not enough to form a whole picture.

Touching quotes from the book“Do you know what happens when you hurt people? ” Ammu said.”  When you hurt people they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you little less”.

Weird Style of Narrative

Now earlier I said a certain level of maturity is necessary to appreciate the novel. This is because the bizarre style in which the novel was written and some controversial scenes. It is written like hairs on the head of the author untamed, uncombed, unruly, flowing randomly all over her face. Well please pardon me for my insensitivity, but I can’t think of any other way to describe her writing style.

The main story was written in between the description. She kept on and on describing surrounding, people, atmosphere and what not. Every minutest details were given so you can close their eyes and visualize the entire scenario. Though I hate to admit, but the description were stunningly beautiful and close to reality.

It was frustrating to read the main story in between description, in bits and pieces. Moreover the author didn’t follow any chronological order. She wrote all the scenes and episodes everything randomly without any sequence. The narrative jumped from past to present without any clear demarcation and the book moved at a snail pace.

It is only a little before ending the book that our dear author decided to stop hitting the bushes and come straight to tie the loose ends. The narrative gathered pace and story flowed seamlessly at a top speed. The book simply becomes unputdownable once the author decides to lift the veil from the suspense.

If I just keep aside her technique of writing, then the author’s power of expression is phenomenal. She can describe anything and everything with such an accuracy it feels like witnessing the events ourselves​. Character’s inner turmoil, their hidden and suppressed desires, innocence and insecurities among children were heart touching.

Touching Quotes from the book“Some punishment were so big that they were like cupboards with built-in bedrooms. You could spend your whole life in them  wondering through dark shelving.”


Character development was remarkable. Each and every character was given enough space to express and evolve. Every character had a story, mostly a tragic story to reveal. Characters were spawned very close to reality. Their mentality, reactions to situations were believable.

The twins Rahel and Estha were the protagonist. They were soul mate, but were very different in nature. While Rahel was someone who was always in denial mood. She form her owns facts in order to deny the truth. While Estha was more practical and rational. In fact, I believe if both were not separated they could have managed to tide over any difficulty.  

But one thing I failed to understand. Marriages are consummated by sex, but this  world which is created by Arundhati Roy even sibling consummated their relationship with sex. I need an explanation here.

Among all the characters Velutha’s character was most intriguing. He belongs to untouchable caste, yet more smart and intelligent than any educated and qualified upper caste.

Yet India being India, doesn’t allow people of lower caste to rise up the ladder and the value of their life is equal to cockroaches and ants who could be trampled anytime. He was loved by twins and their mother, rather secretly, yet their love got him killed and denied justice. Political parties disown him when he was in trouble, but tried to capitalize on his death. 

Through various characters and especially through Velutha’s character the author has tried to show bigotry, social prejudice, caste differences in our society. He is the most purest character in the story, but with the most tragic and unfair ending. Even in death he was made a scapegoat to save others skin after all he was a mere dalit, an untouchable whose life has little value in the eye of touchable.

Arundhati Roy in the most unapologetic manner has portrayed the communism, caste system and social indifference in the society of Kerala which is the most literate state of India.


Arundhati Roy has broken two societal establish norms in the novel: no sex between sibling and no sex between touchable and untouchables. Second one was still acceptable with an open mind, but incest is universal taboo. I am sure it was not out of lust but purely was their way to join two halves of the same soul. In spite of this explanation, the author could have thought of some other way to establish their reunion.

The Verdict

It is a sad tale of twins, their mother and about a person whom they all loved. If one could survive the near perfect description of the author, then a fantastic but controversial written​ tale awaits you. There could be a lot of confusion and chaos in the book largely due to the chosen
hurly-burly style of writing, but things start making sense when everything starts  falling in place.

For me personally it is difficult to like or hate the book. Period.

About Ritu Mantri

A happy soul whenever a book in hand, Ritu Mantri love talking about books and recommending them as much as she love reading them. Books keep her sane and infuses a new meaningful sentence each day in the book of her life.

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