Title: The God of Small Things
Author: Arundhati Roy
I thought I had read this book a long time ago. I'm pretty sure I had it out of the library at least twice. I've even recommended it as an excellent choice to friends in my MFA program (shows how full of hot air I am). I'm pretty sure I started it a couple times, got confused by all the names, and gave up. When friends in my program raved about it and talked about the plot, I realized that I hadn't, in fact, read the book, so I decided to fill that gap in my literary education.
The God of Small Things is one of those pretty books. Roy writes beautifully (the book took her more than four years to write, and it shows-- every word is chosen carefully), and her narrative starts at the end (sort of) and ends in the middle (sort of). So it takes a little bit of work on the part of the reader. In this case, I think it's fine because the writing is so evocative and the characters are so interesting. I know that will remember certain scenes (like the one in the movie theater) for years to come, and that doesn't often happen to me when I read just because I read so dang much.
The only thing about The God of Small Things that didn't win me over completely was the story. The scene at Sophie Mol's funeral at the beginning of the book, sets almost everything up, and by the car trip a few chapters later, I was able to piece together the remaining details (I was reading closely this time) and therefore what seemed intended to be at least somewhat of a mystery just felt like the inevitable conclusion based on what we knew about the family and the situation. So the story itself was a little bit of a disappointment, but the way in which it was told made reading it more than worth the time I invested.
Finally, Arundhati Roy faced obscenity charges for the final scene in the book, a fairly straightforward sex scene between two characters. It was a little racy, but nothing much in terms of other stuff I've read. However, the previous scene, where the brother and sister twins are reunited after spending years apart-- what I got from that scene made me squirm a lot more than a little cross-caste hanky panky. Was I reading a little too much in between the lines or did that part of the book remind anyone else of Flowers in the Attic?