“The God of Small Things” is a novel written by Indian author Arundhati Roy, published in 1997. The story is set in the southern Indian state of Kerala during the late 1960s, and it explores themes of social discrimination, family dynamics, forbidden love, and the impact of the caste system.
The narrative revolves around two central characters, Rahel and Estha, who are twins. The novel unfolds through a non-linear narrative, moving back and forth in time, and is narrated by an adult Rahel who returns to her childhood home after many years. The events of the novel are triggered by the return of their English cousin, Sophie Mol, and the tragic incident that occurs during her visit.
The family, the Ipes, is deeply entangled in societal norms and the rigid caste system. The twins’ mother, Ammu, rebels against these norms and falls in love with Velutha, a lower-caste man. Their love is forbidden and faces strong societal resistance. The consequences of their relationship lead to tragedy and long-lasting repercussions for the entire family.
The novel also delves into the political landscape of Kerala during that time, including the communist movement and the social unrest that characterized the period. The narrative weaves together personal stories and larger social issues, providing a rich and complex tapestry of Indian society.
Roy’s writing is notable for its lyrical prose, vivid descriptions, and evocative imagery. The exploration of “small things” in the title refers to the overlooked details of life that can have profound and lasting impacts on individuals and communities.
“The God of Small Things” received widespread acclaim and won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997, making Arundhati Roy the first Indian woman to win the prestigious award. The novel’s intricate narrative structure, poignant exploration of social issues, and powerful prose contribute to its status as a modern classic of Indian literature.