I am currently on my 26th book for the year and honestly, any number I reach by December 2019 will be an accomplishment. Reading used to be a big part of me growing up, it allowed me to build whole new worlds in my head. And I’m not sure why I let that part of me waste away.
With my mind made up, I had started God of Small Things back in November 2018 and only completed it in January this year. I had taken it for a plane ride, cooler weather and brought it back home. Funnily enough, I gifted it to my mother and then grabbed it as soon as she was done.I also decided to give you an update on The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, another Arundhati Roy book which I was gifted for Christmas. I haven’t finished it but have some reservations about it.
God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy’s work was something of a distant marvel for me, as I actually admired her from what I knew of her but had never opened up any of her pages, before God of Small Things. I carried this book all the way to Amsterdam with me and only made it to around nine or ten pages, before realising that I would need to commit fully to indulge in this cleverly written story. Surely, I couldn’t read this marvel in a new city that I had yet to explore, it wouldn’t have been fair to myself, Arundhati Roy or Amsterdam.
It’s a tale of politics, pain and a blended family, spanning across different generations. It explores themes of communism, conservatism, racism, and caste. I enjoyed the storyline that Roy setup, how tragedy and anguish transcended from one generation to another. The story takes place South India and centres around twins Estha and Rahel. It switches between past and present, misfortune a commonality for each. I’ve never read an unhappier tale. It’s an enthralling read and I relished the scenes of Ayemenen, the way the family house was depicted and even the well-guarded banana jam recipe. It’s heartbreaking in that, you as the reader can’t help feeling like you need to interject in this sad story that keeps going. I found myself hoping characters would change their fates, that they would predict what chaos laid in front of them.
The plot of this story is well laid out to the reader, it does jump between past and present which may confuse some. The writing is unique, in that you feel more hopeless with every sentence. Some reviews I read before opening up God of Small Things found the book predictable and it’s difficult to agree as I pined for a happy ending throughout my reading. Trigger warning there is a sexual abuse scene that is disturbing because of the point of view, but apart from that, the book is an easy read. It’s a page-turner that I would definitely recommend it, again and again.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy
As a bonus, I thought I would share my thoughts on Roy’s second novel – perhaps premature but I’m really disappointed. I haven’t finished reading it and I don’t see myself doing so in the near future. I can’t quite explain the heartache of falling in and out of love at the same time, and that’s where I am right now. This book is confusing, lengthy (which doesn’t feel required) and slow-paced. I’m battling to remember characters, hell even resonate with them, there are so many characters with no real purpose. There is the violence of Hindu nationalism, the Kashmir war, and the trickle-down effects. I feel when reading a book about a topic, you may not have much knowledge on, that it should be easily interruptable or encourage you to do more research. But here, I feel muddled up because I have barely any knowledge of India’s politics in recent years and the process of doing my own research in addition to reading this lengthy book felt like a mammoth task. The pace is long-winding, forced and slightly insignificant. Honestly, it comes across as too much information crammed into the 400+ pages for the purpose of giving you insight and yet fails to do so because there’s too much to absorb. I’ve decided to put this book down for now. Have you read this? What are your thoughts?