Sunday, June 21, 2009

God of small things - book report

Wrote this a long time ago

This was a re-read/re-visit or re-return. I must admit when I read the book earlier or rather flipped through it, I misunderstood the love laws she wanted to break. Naturally assumed that to be the reason for the book being best-seller. I was right & wrong.

The first few chapter have undeniable rushdie style - the gobblygib & dibblydobs, the story-telling through the eyes of children. Ofcourse, she does not do as good a job as Rushdie.The word plays just don't run as wild denying us the crazy world that rushdie lets us live in. (the man is truly crazy, this one is faking it). But she does manage to recreate the child's world perfectly well. In this regard, three of the famous Indian authors - Rushdie, Rk Narayanan and Roy are equally gifted. In one page she has the narrative of the incident from the seven-year old and recalls the same incident from the 31 -year old. The transformation is amazing.

I have read few interviews of her. And the similarities between her own life & Rahel's are easily noticeable. Roy's mom runs a school, rahel's mom wanted to run one. Roy a student of delhi school of architecture, had a failed marriage, bengali dad- syrian christain mom, ditto rahel.

Neverthless, eventually as characters begin to emerge I was a little disappointed with unipolar characterisations of the wilful baby kochamma, conniving pillai, victimized ammu. But what was more disappointing was not the last chapter but the last but one. Pardon me, to me incest chapter does not even seem to fit the flow, seemed unrequired. Infact, I had to google to understand what she was trying to do there.

Otherwise she pretty much uses the usual element for an international book-seller from india. The freudian connection to the motherly love of mammachi is totally unimaginative. Why exactly would mamamachi motherly love have to blemished and ammu's luv for her kid the usual holier kind? Is it because ammu is the one of the protoganist and roy decided she is good? God!

The book also has worst experience a child can have, robbing them of the their innocence of childhood. It was handled very well in the novel from the child's point of view. The confusion, the fear that the child undergoes captured very well.

Roy ensures that the "white" margarest kochamma the better person, while the "brown" baby kochamma has to be conniving one. How else can you sell the book for 1/2 a million dollar. By the by, Kochamma i think means aunt in malayalam, close to athai in tamil?

I wonder if I remove the last but one incest chapter of the book, would the book this successful? Wouldn't yet be another novel.

Once again, is the book-writing all about dark characters. Are all human beings that way?
I thought I was a minority.

Now, don't get me wrong. She is a gifted author.I did end up almost crying reading about Ammu & velutha. The sadness that the children had to live for the rest of it is too heart breaking. Roy's writing shines through most of the book. Wonderful writing again.

Loveable, pitiable ammu, velutha
detestable, conniving baby kochamma & pillai

If only were life was so straight-forward.


  1. Oops!

    Wanted to delete a comment on some-other blog!

    Anyway, nice summary of GOST, which is one of my favorite books...

  2. oops... favorite, then you should elaborate more on it:)

  3. I have not yet read this book,but one of the books to read in my list.

    Kochamma-nnaa Chitthi!

  4. Hmm...I think that innocence is the most beautiful thing in a child...and that as we grow old, we lose that innocence cloak and get ourselves prejudiced eyes to look at the world...and given a chance, we are willing to get back to the innocent days, only that we cannot...

    In the book, the kids were happy despite the gloom all pervasive, and all the characters, for whatever their prejudice, were jealous of the simple happiness of the kids, and tried to deprive them of the happiness, for their satisfaction...So were Velutha and as was to a certain extent Ammu, who put aside mores for their happiness...

    Right from the start, you knew how the story would end, but at every instance, you wanted to put a protective clothing on the principle characters, shield them, but you would helplessly just turn pages....

  5. Maddy,
    Chitthi, yeah? got it totally wrong.

    Wow, that was good, yeah i think read somewhere along these lines, just that i never read the book that way. :) (u cud say i missed the point)

  6. Ponne..
    I LOVED your review.. GOST is one of my favorite books..
    Though i did not care much for the story.. I loved
    1. The way it was written.. the love laws.. the moth sitting on the heart..
    2. The children's point of view.. my parents dont live together.. and I STILl look for a father in every male i meet.. As soon as I read the book.. i knew she was rahel.. coz no one who hasnt been there can know that:D
    3. the love between ammu and velutha.. her contempt for the ordinary.. the love being her expression of rebellion..

    amazing book ya..

    I couldnt understand why she had to do the incest part though

  7. is ponne the new thing in chennai?:)

    most of the good works are somewhat autobiogrpahical. besides every girl looks for a fahter in her partner is what i have heard. agree with you i think she got ammu and velutha right. the way she described velutha every gal who read the book would be drooling.

    look @ kaushik's explanation above, the incest, acc. to some how horrible the world had killed their innocence.

  8. @ sachita
    Thats true about the innocence.. And of course hope.. children are much more optimistic in the face of adversities than adults are..

    There was an ominious tone to most of the chapters.. it was almost like one could hear a ghastly bell ringing in the distance.. so.. ya.. we knew it would end like that..

    I saw the book as a murder of hope.. so much so.. that they sought the solace of only each others company..