May 23, 2004

The God of Small Things

This book has won a lot of accolades (and even the Booker Prize), so I'll just say there are three specific things I liked about it.

A good part of the story is told from Rahel's perspective as a girl, including the mangled descriptions that come from a child's limited understanding. It's integral to the feeling of the place and the story.
"If you ever," Ammu said, "and I mean this, EVER, ever again disobey me in Public, I will see to it that you are sent away to somewhere where you will jolly well learn to behave. Is that clear?"
When Ammu was really angry, she said Jolly Well. Jolly Well was a deeply well with larfing dead people in it.
    *    *    *    *    *
"Where d'you think people are sent to Jolly Well Behave?" Estha asked Rahel in a whisper.
"To the government," Rahel whispered back, because she knew.
Invented Words
There are some wonderfully descriptive passages, and my favorites are the ones with invented and jammed-together words. Wordplay is always fun.
During the funeral service, Rahel watched a small black bat climb up Baby Kochamma's expensive funeral sari with gently clinging curled claws. When it reached the place between her sari and her blouse, her roll of sadness, her bare midriff, Baby Kochamma screamed and hit the air with her hymnbook. The singing stopped for a "Whatisit? Whathappened?" and for a Furrywhirring and a Sariflapping.
The Story Isn't in Time Order, But It IS in Order of Importance
I get the impression that some writers move the last bit to the first just for the heck of it, to mix things up, maybe to confuse the reader on purpose or just because they think it's modern and hip to tell the story out of order. But while the story in The God of Small Things isn't told in direct linear order, in the end I was pleased with the story order because it was meaningful. A nice change!

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

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