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The God of Small Things [Paperback]

Arundhati Roy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

5 May 2004

‘They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.’

This is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother’s factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun, incumbent grand-aunt).

Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize-winning novel was the literary sensation of the 1990s: a story anchored to anguish but fuelled by wit and magic.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (5 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006550681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006550686
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arundhati Roy is an award-winning film-maker and a trained architect. Her first novel, The God of Small Things, won the Booker Prize in 1997 and was a bestseller in more than two dozen countries worldwide.

Product Description

Amazon Review

In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language.


‘Richly deserving the rapturous praise it has received on both sides of the Atlantic…”The God of Small Things” achieves a genuine tragic resonance. It is, indeed, a masterpiece.’ Observer

‘Roy is truly gifted, not just in her ability to make words playful and meaning mischievous, but to use this to create a language texture that bowls you along, gathering momentum like the narrative itself…Witty and vivid, full of rich, memorable images…a verbal stream of steady beauty.’ Ali Smith

‘It is rare to find a book that so effectively cuts through the clothes of nationality, caste and religion to reveal the bare bones of humanity. A sensational novel.’ Daily Telegraph

‘A quite astonishing novel by any standards – broad in its historical sweep, emotionally profound and marvellously acute and delicate.’ Economist

‘Quite brilliant…One can only strongly recommend this extremely funny and enchanting and pretty much genius piece of debut fiction.’ Spectator

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
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.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth persevering with! 27 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Having read and heard lots of fairly negative reviews, I began this book rather apprehensively. And, seemingly like many other people, found it quite difficult to get into, and very nearly gave up after the first few chapters. I'm really not a fan of flowery language just for the sake of it, especially when it makes it difficult to understand what's going on properly! And I thought it was going to be one of those types of books. But then about halfway through, I started really getting into it.
The story jumps about a lot, with twins Estha and Rahel as children in parts and adults in other parts. But each chapter gives you a little clue at the beginning as to which era it is talking about. The twins as children have all sorts of little childish phrases, songs and thoughts that not only portray their playful innocence but also lend the reader a hint as to which period the chapter is currently in. Some reviewers have said that the jumping about in time made the story unnecessarily difficult to follow, and was done just for artistic prize-winning purposes, but I have to disagree. Had the story been told chronologically, it wouldn't have been anywhere near as atmospheric. There were parts of the book where the most important point to get across was the sheer sadness and melancholy. To have had a full prior knowledge of why the sadness was there would have jaded the scene with the reader's own reaction or interpretation of the preceding events. In real life when you meet people with a story or a history behind them, you meet the person and get to know their character first, and then the full story unfolds later on in bits and bobs, just like in this book. Also, that is the way it was for the twins - they didn't really understand the full horror and meaning of what had happened until they grew up.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Having read the reviews of others - I simply had to write to protest to comments like 'dull' and 'boring', 'couldn't finish it', 'maybe if I'd travelled in India' bla blah blah. Come on! I love nothing more than a good book - and this, I have to say folks, is one of the most beautifully executed books I have ever read. So much so that I can't think of anyone I know I haven't bought it for or lent it to. I think this author deserves full credit for her efforts and every writing prize there is going. I couldn't even begin thinking about how to write like that. She has a unique talent which I think so many others lack. If I were a writer - I would have wanted to be Roy and written this very book. Don't be put off by the negative reviews on this book - give it a chance. I stumbled on this book by chance - no-one had recommended it to me and I really am glad I picked it up. I don't think that this book is 'hyped' at all. It doesn't get its due credit - I've never read a book that has made me feel so strongly before. In terms of writing talent, it surpasses another of my favourite books - Memoirs of a Geisha - and thats saying something.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a stunning, poetic first novel of tragic love. 13 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This is a haunting, poetic novel, utterly gripping in its inexorable description of the approaching tragedy that awaits its two main characters.
You know what is coming, and grieve for the passionate woman at the centre of the book, for her two children, for the lover, for the country that could allow this to happen, for the passionate at heart everywhere.
The language is lyrical and ringingly poetic: some of the images will stay with me for a long time. I was particularly taken by the writer's ability to take a child-like perspective at moments of intense emotion, to see from a child's eyes, yet to describe feelings which are simultaneously adult.
A stunning first novel; rich, intense, powerfully moving.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely prose sometimes, but a bit of a struggle. 15 May 2000
By A Customer
If the book was half as long I would have liked it more. I thought it was like a very long journey through nice countryside. For the first couple of hundred miles you marvel at the scenery, but after that it all looks the same and you just want to get there. It would be OK, if it had a few more stops on the way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Fabulous book - could read again and again. Roy paints a thousand pictures, sounds and smells with her remarkable portrayal of the caste system and its impact on ordinary human... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Gill B
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
need more time.
Published 23 days ago by g singh bains
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!
Only just read this recently following a friend's recommendation. Well it's a fantastic tale that you will think about long after finishing. Read more
Published 28 days ago by S. Haq
4.0 out of 5 stars The God of Small Things
I chose this rating because I couldn't quite give it a 4 star though I would have like to give it a 4.5 stars. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Colourful worlds
A reader beginning this novel needs to free him/herself from expectations and past conventions. I'd recommend just getting lost in the beauty of the prose and the world that Roy... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rosalind Minett
4.0 out of 5 stars simple story
simple and interesting story. A must read. Excellent buy. Explaining all the simplicity and innocence of village people and all details of natural beauty. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tan Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars A quite extraordinary book, astonishing in its depth and clarity.
This is quite an extraordinary book. The descriptive prose is astonishing, in its depth and clarity. Read more
Published 2 months ago by amarylis
1.0 out of 5 stars A reading group choice - avoid!
This book divides opinion in reviews. I read it because it was chosen by one of our reading group members and it is a group that takes its choices very seriously - that is the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sandra Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
Read it while on holiday in India. Beautifully written and a wonderful story. If you enjoyed 'A Suitable Boy " you will enjoy this.
Published 2 months ago by Elaine Grundy
5.0 out of 5 stars Humour on Serious
I have this book in my car, to read at traffic lights (red) and when waiting for people (white, usually). Read more
Published 2 months ago by Andy Graham, Truro
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