Thursday, January 29, 2009

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

What happens when Love Laws made by the society are broken? The laws which dictate who should be loved, how and how much. Arundhati Roy’s debut novel The God of Small Things shot the author into fame and bagged the 1997 Booker Prize. The scene is set in Ayemenem, a small town in Kottayam in Kerala of the 1960s, where caste system reigns high. Ammu Ipe, an aristocratic young divorcee falls in love with Velutha, an educated untouchable carpenter. The day they start their affair is also the day when Sophiemol, Ammu’s nice arrives from Britain only to drown herself to death in the River Meenachal while on an adventure with Ammu’s children. Their nocturnal trysts are discovered and the affair brought to a tragic end. They break all rules of conduct in a close-bound and rigid society. But the punishment does not stop with the death of the two lovers- the murder of Velutha or the slow death of Ammu. It has got serious reverberations on the lives of the people in the family as well as society. It takes various forms and in the family it takes the form of silence of Estha and the emptiness of Rahel- Ammu’s two-egg twins who get separated after the tragedy. Strangely their lives are joined once again in defiance against the Love Laws of society. The book has a complex structure because of its shifts in time. The language is unique and repetition adds to the pathos in the novel. Written in an engaging style the book offers a culture and a flavour that is definitely Indian. The novel describes a society which is hypocritical and patriarchal as well as politically corrupt.  

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