I knew I wanted to do something about The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, but there are so many reviews out there that I thought doing another one would be a bit obsolete. To the interwebs I went – and specifically, to bookshelf fantasies.
So, here we go!
One of the most striking elements of The God of Small Things is the prose. I’m hoping to tackle Roy’s other literature (the rest of which is non-fiction) just in the hope that her writing there is equally as good. Because OH MY GOD.
But what was there to say?
Only that there were tears. Only that Quietness and Emptiness fitted together like stacked spoons. Only that there was a snuffling in the hollows at the base of a lovely throat. Only that a hard honey-coloured shoulder had a semi-circle of teethmarks on it. Only that they held each other close, long after it was over. Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief.
Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much. (309).
The History House.
With cool stone floors and dim walls and billowing ship-shaped shadows. Plump, translucent lizards lived behind old pictures, and waxy, crumbling ancestors with tough toe-nails and breath that smelled of yellow maps gossiped in sibilant, papery whispers.
‘But we can’t go in,’ Chacko explained, ‘because we’ve been locked out. And when we look in through the windows, all we see are shadows. And when we try and listen, all we hear is a whispering. And we cannot understand the whispering, because our minds have been invaded by a war. A war that we have won and lost. The very worst sort of war. A war that captures dreams and re-dreams them. A war that has made us adore our conquerors and despise ourselves.’ (49-50).
It is also clearly a novel written (partly) from the point of view of children, and can be delightfully playful:
‘Don’t forget that you are Ambassadors of India,’ Baby Kochamma told Rahel and Estha. ‘You’re going to form their First Impression of your country.’
Two-egg Twin Ambassadors. Their Excellencies Ambassador E(lvis). Pelvis, and Ambassador S(tick). Insect.
In her stiff lace dress and her fountain in a Love-in-Tokyo, Rahel looked like an Airport Fairy with appalling taste. She was hemmed in by humid hips (as she would be once again in a yellow church) and grim eagerness. She had her grandfather’s moth on her heart. She turned away from the screaming steel bird in the skyblue sky that had her cousin in it, and what she saw was this: red-mouthed roos with ruby smiles moved cemently across the airport floor.
There are so many other quotes that I wish I could include – Rahel and Estha have a fantastic way of communicating (or not) with each other, and the wordplay is just incredible. There are also so many other passages that comment on Anglophiles, conquerors, and India itself. The God of Small Things is a modern classic for a reason, and if you haven’t picked it up already, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Have a great Thursday!