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The God of Small Things
Cover of The God of Small Things
The God of Small Things
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The New York Times bestselling and Booker Prize-winning novel about an Indian family in tragic decline that introduced the world to the voice of Arundhati Roy

Likened to the works of Faulkner and Dickens when it was first published twenty years ago, this extraordinarily accomplished debut novel is a brilliantly plotted story of forbidden love and piercing political drama, centered on the tragic decline of an Indian family in the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, the twins Rahel and Esthappen fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family-their lonely, lovely mother Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts).

When their English cousin and her mother arrive on a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in a day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever. The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it.

The New York Times bestselling and Booker Prize-winning novel about an Indian family in tragic decline that introduced the world to the voice of Arundhati Roy

Likened to the works of Faulkner and Dickens when it was first published twenty years ago, this extraordinarily accomplished debut novel is a brilliantly plotted story of forbidden love and piercing political drama, centered on the tragic decline of an Indian family in the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, the twins Rahel and Esthappen fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family-their lonely, lovely mother Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts).

When their English cousin and her mother arrive on a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in a day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever. The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it.

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About the Author-
  • Arundhati Roy is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, as well as several nonfiction titles. She was trained as an architect and has worked as a production designer and screenwriter for two films.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Some stories cry out to be read aloud, and Arundhati Roy's mystical view into the lives of twins, Rahel and Estappen, succeeds brilliantly through this fine narration. In harmony with the heat and slow pace of Southern India, the smells, sounds and sights are described in exquisite detail made all the more exotic by Donada Peters's reading. Her careful pacing, superb diction and perfect understanding of the language and idioms of Indian-English combine into a memorable performance. Peters handles the author's delicious, poetic wordplay, which presents a perfect child-like view of the twins' family and surrounding culture. Staying with the shifting time frames and recollections is tricky, but Peters is a fascinating and accomplished guide. The book won the 1997 Booker Prize, and it should be additionally acclaimed as an audiobook. R.F.W. Winner of AUDIOFILE Earphones Award (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 31, 1997
    With sensuous prose, a dreamlike style infused with breathtakingly beautiful images and keen insight into human nature, Roy's debut novel charts fresh territory in the genre of magical, prismatic literature. Set in Kerala, India, during the late 1960s when Communism rattled the age-old caste system, the story begins with the funeral of young Sophie Mol, the cousin of the novel's protagonists, Rahel and her fraternal twin brother, Estha. In a circuitous and suspenseful narrative, Roy reveals the family tensions that led to the twins' behavior on the fateful night that Sophie drowned. Beneath the drama of a family tragedy lies a background of local politics, social taboos and the tide of history--all of which come together in a slip of fate, after which a family is irreparably shattered. Roy captures the children's candid observations but clouded understanding of adults' complex emotional lives. Rahel notices that "at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. The Big Things lurk unsaid inside." Plangent with a sad wisdom, the children's view is never oversimplified, and the adult characters reveal their frailties--and in one case, a repulsively evil power--in subtle and complex ways. While Roy's powers of description are formidable, she sometimes succumbs to overwriting, forcing every minute detail to symbolize something bigger, and the pace of the story slows. But these lapses are few, and her powers coalesce magnificently in the book's second half. Roy's clarity of vision is remarkable, her voice original, her story beautifully constructed and masterfully told. First serial to Granta; foreign rights sold in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Holland, India, Greece, Canada and the U.K.

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