Monday, 16 November 2015

Book Review: 'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy

I picked this one up because it's November's reading choice for the ManBookering group on GoodReads. It's a novel I'd heard of before, and seen much praise about, one that I initially went into thinking that it would be fantastic- maybe a Man Booker prize winner that I would love (so far, my only five star winner is last years, Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North). 

It follows a family in Ayemenem, India, who consist of Mammachi- the grandmother-, Baby Kochamma- the grand aunt-, Mamachi's children Chacko and Ammu, and Ammu's children Estha and Rahel. There is a great scandal when Sophie Mol, Chacko's daughter comes to visit from England, where she now lives with her Mum and something awful happens, the causes of which are revealed slowly throughout the novel. Everyone has their own heartaches and problems- no-one quite seems to be happy in love: there are affairs and beatings and alcoholics- and everyone is flawed.

However, I gave this one two stars on GoodReads.  I feel disappointed in this one because it could have been great. The end fifty pages or so, and the ending itself, were so moving and touching. I have kept on thinking about the ending since finishing the novel and the ingrained injustice made me simmer with anger. It was all just so unfair. 

I just didn't like the writing style or the structure. I think when you look back on it, the novel said a lot of important things about India, about the caste system, and about love. It is interesting and educational, but I think that the execution takes away from the message and what Roy is trying to say. I didn't like the disjointed writing style, the odd slips into colloquialisms and odd spellings. I could have dnf-ed this book very easily before I'd hit page 100, because I just wasn't sure what was going on. I'd also have liked events to unfold in a more linear way: I'm all for retrospect, but even looking back events were all over the place. I was often confused, and this kept my interest in this book at bay for a long time. 

Overall, this is what I think critics would call an important book. It just wasn't always an enjoyable one. Who knows, it might be one for re-reading, knowing what I do now. 

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