This is a fable of modern india played out through the lives of the central family - an india that is crippled by outer, inner and secret burdens: caste/social control, duty/tradition, and the essential heartbreaking element of this novel: taboo. The plot is impossible to delineate and is executed so adroitly and delicately that rather than just being told the story directly, you realise or suspect by degrees what is going on - much as it is when we might suspect our lovers are having an affair and we build up evidence not only from the present but even the distant past! And yet we remain unsure.
In order to accomplish this novel, Roy has had to pass the english language through a prism and bend it round corners, producing some of the most celestial prose I've ever read and some of the most haunting metaphors.
Within the family, issues of sexual abuse, bereavement and true love are hemmed in by taboo: they remain, as the title goes 'small things' with heartbreaking results, while all around the characters, there exists an india that is luscious and fragrant and well ordered by tradition.
However the sheer beauty of the prose carried me through to the end of the novel - leaving me not only genuinely grieving for this family, but also committed to trying to be more compassionate and understanding in my own life.