Sunday 17 February 2019

The God of Small Things

I was absolutely blown away by this book.

I saw a hard copy circulating at Kigali book swap, then the audiobook was on offer on Audible, so I thought I'd try it, knowing nothing about it.

Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things won the 1997 Booker Prize, and it's easy to see why. The story is just heartbreaking. Not so much for the violence of the act which takes place as for the unspoken effect that has on two little persons - Ambassadors E. Pelvis and S. Insect. A tour de force of the fragility of being. 

A book with a yellow church which swells like a throat with the sound of singing, tears which tremble along jaws like raindrops on a roof, redly dead eyes, and people who have broken eggs but burned the omelette.

Its pages are filled with beautiful words:

The twins were too young to know that these were only history’s henchmen. Sent to square the books and collect the dues from those who broke its laws. Impelled by feelings that were primal yet paradoxically wholly impersonal. Feelings of contempt born of inchoate, unacknowledged fear—civilization’s fear of nature, men’s fear of women, power’s fear of powerlessness. Man’s subliminal urge to destroy what he could neither subdue nor deify.


Biology designed the dance, terror timed it. 

Behind them, the river pulsed through the darkness, shimmering like wild silk. Yellow bamboo wept. Night's elbows rested on the water and watched them.


A weak, watery moon filtered through the clouds and revealed a young man sitting on the topmost of thirteen stone steps that led into the water. He was very still, very wet. Very young. 

In a while he stood up, took off the white mundu he was wearing, squeezed the water from it and twisted it around his head like a turban. Naked now, he walked down the thirteen stone steps into the water and further, until the river was chest high. Then he began to swim with easy, powerful strokes, striking out towards where the current was swift and certain, where the Really Deep began. The moonlit river fell from his swimming arms like sleeves of silver. 

A really incredible read, do pick up a copy. The audiobook is beautifully narrated by Aysha Kala, whose voice brings an innocence to the story which perfectly matches the children's experience.

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