I’d heard of “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy many times. I finally decided to pick it up after a recommendation from a favorite fellow Bookstagrammer, and oh, my heart. This book is so subtle and poetic, tragic and astounding. I can already tell it’s the kind I’ll be thinking about for a long time after I turn the last page.
Set in India, Roy tells the story of a tragic event that causes the unraveling of a “Touchable” (read: upper class) family in India. It’s not a happy tale, but I found it instructive and powerful on so many levels. Roy explores and challenges India’s caste-based social system, prejudices, and traditions, while also touching on broader questions around love, trauma, childhood, and power.
If there was any drawback to this one, it might be it’s complexity. There are a lot of characters, and, coupled with a non-linear narrative and a very particular writing style, I was occasionally challenged to keep the characters, relationships, and timelines straight. By about midway through the book, I had everything figured out, but it should be acknowledged that this isn’t an easy read. It demands that the reader be patient and attentive.
As a side note: this novel was especially interesting after reading Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson, which sheds a lot of light on India’s caste system and compares with our own caste system in the US (yes, we have a caste system… I’ll let Wilkerson convince you). I highly recommend Caste one as a companion to this novel.
Most of “The God of Small Things” was read in the late evenings and early mornings, usually with a mug of tea or coffee in hand, so it feels appropriate to pair it here with one of my favorite mugs from Sound Ceramics. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out their one-of-kind wares before you cozy up with this novel.