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The God of Small Things: A Novel [Paperback]

Arundhati Roy
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (451 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 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 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Achievement, no Small Thing at all April 14 2002
This book powerfully recalls the astonishing feat Faulkner performed in rendering children's points of view as they try to comprehend and assimilate the tragedies drawn and suffered by the significant adults in their lives. With an equally experimental and more poetical narration than Faulkner, Arundhati Roy renders a family saga comprehending three generations in Kerala. The book should be read aloud; it needs to be heard. The brooding sense of looming disaster made me put the book aside several times, for I could not bring myself to see the disaster which would fracture the worlds of the two-egg twins. But the charm of the twins and of the narration, the eccentricities of the characters, brought me back each time to the charms of the book. Like all great poetry this needs to be read aloud and read several times. It is like a traditional Romance--as opposed to the novel which aims to do realism--which is more dreamlike and poetic than an ordinary novel It should be categorized along side _Moby-Dick_ and _One Hundred Years of Solitude_ and _Sound and Fury_.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two Everykids in India April 4 2002
By momazon
Estha and Rahel are fraternal twins, a brother and sister, living with their mother in the Indian state of Kerala. This book is about them and their roles within their extended family.
The story jumps from Rahel's perspective to Estha's, as well as their uncle and mother and grandaunt, from their childhood to their adulthood and back again. They are both raised by their mother, then they are separated Estha is sent to live with their father for years before he comes back.
They have a half-Caucasian cousin named Sophie Mol who visits them from London. During her initial and brief encounter with her cousins, tragedy befalls.
All of these events seem to mark the twins as they move forward in life, trying to understand those --- especially the adults ---around them. The twins' childhood viewpoints are like any other child's as they try to figure out if their parents really love them, and their confusion is like any other child's as they discover they can never really know that answer.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Tough Read-Not for Everyone April 1 2002
The God of Small Things is a Booker Prize recipient & I hoped that I would enjoy it as much as the many raving reviews said I would. Unfortunately, I did not find this to be a book that I enjoyed. The book was well written and full of a lot of lyrical/poetic prose. This is a book that requires much focus and concentration and despite my best efforts, I can't say that I enjoyed it. The novel, set in India does flashbacks from past to present around an Indian family. Rahel & Estha are twins, born into a family that owns a pickling company. Most of the story is set during the 1960's and portrays a life of deep poverty and sadness. Through flashbacks from the past as well as current information, we learn the painful history of this family and the secrets that destroyed it. I had hoped to gain a better understanding of Indian culture, but personally felt the author only grazed the surface of this issue and never felt I got to really know or understand any of the characters. This is a book that I may have enjoyed more reading it in an English class to gain a full appreciation and understanding of the writing. While many may love this book, I don't think it's for everyone.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 26 days ago by etrnlflame
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book
Published 1 month ago by M. Pacitti
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking Story with Humor
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! Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2007 by Teddy
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
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