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The God of Small Things: A Novel [Paperback]

Arundhati Roy
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (449 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1998 Pearson Papers; 1
The international publishing sensation of 1997 -- translated into 18 languages -- a magical, sophisticated tour de force.

The God of Small Things heralds a voice so powerful and original that it burns itself into the reader's memory. Set mainly in Kerala, India, in 1969, it is the story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha, who learn that their whole world can change in a single day, that love and life can be lost in a moment. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they seek to craft a childhood for themselves amid the wreckage that constitutes their family. Sweet and heartbreaking, ribald and profound, this is a novel to set beside those of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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From Amazon

In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

With sensuous prose, a dreamlike style infused with breathtakingly beautiful images and keen insight into human nature, Roy's debut novel charts fresh territory in the genre of magical, prismatic literature. Set in Kerala, India, during the late 1960s when Communism rattled the age-old caste system, the story begins with the funeral of young Sophie Mol, the cousin of the novel's protagonists, Rahel and her fraternal twin brother, Estha. In a circuitous and suspenseful narrative, Roy reveals the family tensions that led to the twins' behavior on the fateful night that Sophie drowned. Beneath the drama of a family tragedy lies a background of local politics, social taboos and the tide of history?all of which come together in a slip of fate, after which a family is irreparably shattered. Roy captures the children's candid observations but clouded understanding of adults' complex emotional lives. Rahel notices that "at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. The Big Things lurk unsaid inside." Plangent with a sad wisdom, the children's view is never oversimplified, and the adult characters reveal their frailties?and in one case, a repulsively evil power?in subtle and complex ways. While Roy's powers of description are formidable, she sometimes succumbs to overwriting, forcing every minute detail to symbolize something bigger, and the pace of the story slows. But these lapses are few, and her powers coalesce magnificently in the book's second half. Roy's clarity of vision is remarkable, her voice original, her story beautifully constructed and masterfully told. First serial to Granta; foreign rights sold in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Holland, India, Greece, Canada and the U.K.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book of all time Feb. 1 2002
I've read quite a varied bunch of books in my time, but Roy's "God of Small Things' is definitely the first book that comes to mind when you say 'favourite'.
I find it incredibly textured. The little word games that the characters play remind me so much of my own youth.
I grew up in India, though not in the locale that Roy's book features, and I remeber my childhood games mirroring those that Rahel and Estha play... nictitating, ictitating, titating, etc"
I felt every character in the book, whether I loved them or hated them. The sense of little pleasures and ultimate hopelessness that the tale embodies is incredible and feels disturbingly like truth. The nice thing about it is that although it's a sad story, you don't end it bitterly. Roy picked the perfect scene to end the book with. Had she chosen any other, I think I'd have been too disturbed to ever want to read it again.
To me, it is one of the great stories.... one that does not trick you with a surprise ending. It is one that you can enter at any point and inhabit comfortably; as familiar as the scent of your lover's skin.
Because, in the great stories, we already know what happens;who lives and who dies, who finds love and who doesn't; but we want to know again.. just as although we know that one day we will die, we live as though we won't.
If you like texture and description in writing, starve for two days if you have to, but have a pretty copy of this book.
I've actually got two copies: one hardbound and one paperback which I keep for my own use, and a separate copy for the sole purpose of lending out to friends that I think will appreciate it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting First Novel March 8 2000
If you like fast-paced literature, then you probably won't like this book. If you like to linger and savor beaded words, then you'll probably enjoy this story. I read that A. Roy did not edit this book. It was a first draft. I must say that whatever energy the author was trying to capture, she succeeded masterfully. This is the type of book that hits you a few days after reading it. It makes you think about the small details, and the sensory sentences that just doesn't leave you alone. Some people hated the ending. Even A. Roy was taken to court because of those last pages for allegedly violating indecency laws in India. I have to say that the last chapter was quite memorable and appropriate. It went beyond the laws of society, and the laws of most literary ending. It ended in ecstasy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love, life and loss of innocence March 6 2000
Darkly disturbing and beautifully writing, Arundhati Roy has written an extraordinary first novel. Her voice is fresh and ripe with metaphor as the reader is surrounded by the world of southern India. Told through the eyes of Rahel, now grown, who revisits the childhood secret she shares with her twin brother, it speaks of love, life and a loss of innocence.
They live in Kerula, a Christian matriarchal state, with their divorced mother, blind grandmother, bitter aunt and sad uncle. It is a world where impending communism is supposed to be weakening the caste system which has been rooted in the culture for thousands of years. It is a world of decay and disaster. There's a skyblue Plymouth, a graygreen river and a world of wonder for the two-egg twins whose vision is filtered through their clear-eyed innocence.
The story is one of passion and forbidden love told with fresh eyes while "night's elbows rested on the water and watched.....". It grabs the reader with an emotional quality that goes far beyond the particular characters and even the particular setting. This is a book to be savored, thought about deeply, and, perhaps even read for a second time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive story April 6 2005
This is the first book I have read by this author and I am glad that it is his debut book. The story is lovely and convinced me that Arundhati Roy is a great storyteller. Many of the characters are rich and original and the story is full of credible twists and turns, making it the interesting read that readers are always looking for.
This fascinating novel that is set in India in the late 60s begins with the funeral of a cousin of the novel's narrator. Rahelas she is called shares with her twin brother Estha share family secrets that are masterfully presented to the reader in this gripping, suspenseful and revealing prose that is told from the point of a child. Rich in characters and an amazing plot, The God of Small Things takes you into the fascinating setting of India , its politics, rich culture , unique social and caste system, numerous taboos, and its turbulent rich which all have an influence on the characters of the story. A highly recommended read:
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking Story with Humor Aug. 19 2007
By Teddy
Set in late 1960's India, is the story of two twins Rahel and Estha and the family secrets that unfold.

Roy's richly textured prose sings! Her comic style and sense of humor were grand in this sorrowful story. While reading this novel, I felt like I was right there, looking in. Like a reality show with a camera. Sometimes the writing got a bit patchy in places, but overall, this is a very good book and I would recommend it.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overall
Despite knowing the shipping time was between 3-4 weeks, it still felt like a long time for a product to arrive. Read more
Published on June 4 2011 by CHRISMCKIM
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary novel!
Once, every now and then, I read a book that feels so powerful that I wonder how could I have lived before -- without knowing this story -- and not be aware of the void within? Read more
Published on July 30 2007 by Candance Fields
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful to read!
This book was captivating both in written style and story. I fell in love with the characters. This book really stands out among a lot of other books I have read. Read more
Published on June 20 2005 by Joyce M
5.0 out of 5 stars Such Beautiful Prose
Ms. Roy has written one of the most wonderful works of descriptive prose that I have ever had the good fortune to read. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2003 by Nicholas Lezetc
2.0 out of 5 stars Master of Language, Terrible at storytelling
There is no dispute about it, the book is beautifully written in a very poetic language. But Roy is terrible at telling the story and portraying characters. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Guh.
The literary equivalent of being soundly thrashed with an olive branch after Sunday services and told to shut up and study your Catechism for the next three hours. Read more
Published on June 18 2003 by "writing_static"
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful use of language...
The book's greatest asset is the beautiful use of language. The various emotions in the story are nicely sketched with the best use of words. The character-sketch is strong. Read more
Published on June 17 2003 by Anand Nair
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic
Roy's critically acclaimed novel, The God of Small Things, is not an easy read about another culture. There are few surprises in the story of this novel. Read more
Published on June 8 2002 by K. Fromal
4.0 out of 5 stars A reading workout with stellar results
This is one of those books that you really want to put down after the first half--but you keep on going because something within you tells you to read. Read more
Published on June 4 2002 by dummy
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing and poetic
If you expect a candy coated fantasy story where everything comes out allright in the end - then run away. Read more
Published on May 27 2002 by windriver12
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