Saturday, July 26, 2014

The God of Small Things

So here's a Booker prize winner.  I had a copy at one point, I know I did.  But it wandered away, and I only recently found another copy at a really awesome used bookstore in Dayton, OH.  I said I'd read this for my 2014 challenge if I could find it, and well, here's my review.

This is quite a counterpoint to A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  Written about the same time but set 10 years earlier in a different part of India.  A wildly different form of writing - playful, experimental, toying with the sounds of words, and injecting the rhythm of Malayalam into English.

Where Mistry's story lets the characters' humanity shine through, Roy uses artistry.

The plot is a fairly hackneyed set-up - an affair between castes - but the resulting consequences dwell on big questions.  How responsible are children for the results of their actions?  Even when they've been manipulated?  How do unbending social constructs protect and destroy individuals?  What motivates people either to fall in line or rebel against their given roles?  How have modern political systems grafted themselves on to cultures that greatly predate them?  

She also provides an almost incidental but damning critique of Western-driven cultural tourism.

Many parts of the book seem trippy or dream-like, but this is because much of it is told from the viewpoint of children.  Not precisely in their words, but in their style of perception.

Final Call:

In the end, this one ended up being one of my all-time favorites, much in the same way The English Patient  has.  One of the few books I would gladly reread.

No comments :

Post a Comment