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Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things: A timeless giant appreciating the minutes of Life


Arundhati Roy’s second novel ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ is already a bestseller and has been short-listed for various awards across the globe. As her fan following cuts across the geographic lines, we take a look at the book that made her the goddess of Indian Fiction writing world.

"They stuck to the small things." This line which comes in the last extract of the book, explains the jest of the classic by Arundhati Roy titled 'The God of Small Things.'

The story, which touches many characters, revolves around a family living in the town of Ayemenem, Kerala. 'The God of Small Things' unfolds with memories of a family grieving around a drowned child's coffin. The story starts to run in a flashback when 31-year-old Rahel Kochamma returns to Ayemenem House to find her twin brother Estha and finds herself recollecting initial years of her life in the town in the process. Estha and Rahel, once inseparable zygotic twins, were separated for 25 years, since the winter of 1969, when their English cousin, Sophie Mol, drowned in the river. The twins were only seven years old in 1969 and lived in a world of their own making. They were at the Ayemenem House because of their proud and beautiful mother, Ammu, made the unforgivable mistake of marrying badly.

Ammu's status within the family is tenuous because of her marital disgrace. Then, there is Baby Kochamma, who once tried to become a nun, not because of her faith in God but due to her affinity for Father Mulligan. Another prime character is the twins' charming uncle, Chacko, the Oxford-educated Marxist who returned from his failed marriage in England and runs pickles and jam business. Last but definitely, not the least is Velutha, an untouchable who serves as the family carpenter. Velutha fixes up everything around Ayemenem House, from the factory's canning machine to the cherub fountain in Baby Kochamma's garden. He is basically the ''The God of Small Things.''

All throughout the book, the characters go through the horrors of life but climax describes a 'small' interlude of intense happiness portraying that life can be harsh, really harsh and the refuge can be found in small feelings, the small things that make our life worth.

The description of every important character, significant or nonsignificant to the narrative, is detailed and intimate. Also, the same goes for the events. For instance, consider this: 'A yellow brook burbled through a mountain pass,' what do you think, the above phrase is describing? Well, this phrase is describing a lady pissing in a public pot. Now read the phrase again and you will get an idea of how minutely the scenes have been explained in the book. Reading this novel is no less than viewing a movie as the detailed description heightens your visualization power to levels as high as the peaks of Himalayas.

Various social issues are raised in this book, many of them being relevant even today, the most prominent among them being sexual abuse of children. Other social evils such as patriarchy, untouchability, caste-divide are also raised vociferously. 

The electrifying novel won Arundhati Roy, the Man Booker Prize in 1997. Her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness made it to the Man Booker Long List this year. As Arundhati Roy has been pretty vocal on the Kashmir issue, the issue again landed her in trouble with hate comments coming from all over. 

Coming back to her fictional world, Roy's narration is at par and the reader remains enthralled all the way. So, grab your copy today and immerse yourself in a completely different world, a world of salt breeze, a world of smoke, a world of 'Mundus', a world of 'Kutty', a world of 'small things'.

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Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things: A timeless giant appreciating the minutes of Life

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