Thursday, May 22, 2014

How should you love? (Book review: The God of Small Things)

What is love, I ask myself? There have been a lot of love stories written on celluloid and paper. . .but all that is fiction. In real life what does love look like? I thought I knew what love was, I was perfectly sure, until I realized I didn’t. How do you love? Who do you love? Can you decide to fall in love? Is it something that logical? Someone once told me that the spark, the chemistry, the rush. . .all that is transient. It never lasts. It is a combustible recipe that burns down, fades away. I didn’t want to agree.

The God of Small Things is about such love that burnt and destroyed everything on its way. A love that nobody understood. A love that nobody approved of. A love that had to be under wraps. A love that challenged ‘normal’. What is normal, really? Whatever a million people are doing is normal? Everything else is abnormal? And therefore wrong? Why should we follow the definitions made by others and not create our own meanings based on our instincts? Because others will burn you down. You need to shoulder the burden of living in this ‘society’ and what other people think is right. That is why love is scary – it is either mediocre or blazing. How do you walk the fine line, that tight rope with spectators watching hawk-eyed waiting for you to fall?

I had picked this book long time ago in my late teens, and left it after reading a few pages. There were way too many characters, the names were confusing, the narration was not linear and it felt convoluted. But I always wanted to read this book as I had heard so much about it. This year I am on a reading spree and I have decided to read everything that I ‘always’ wanted to read. Last month I bought The God of Small Things and I am really glad I finally read it. . . though I ended up breaking my momentum by reading only one book last month (against my pact of 3 in a month). Reading The God of Small Things was an experience that pushed me in one distant dark corner, tore open my eyes, shining bright light onto my pupils…leaving me in a dizzy of a blinding clarity. It sensitized me in a way that a book has not in a long time. It is unlike any book I have ever read. I could not pick up another book for very long after that.

I loved the language, the flow, the tiny snippets of humor, the way Arundhati has explored ‘nature’ and how people behave and think and act. This book touches upon a lot of things and is still not preachy. It does not judge. It shows you how people are; giving you details of their background that led them to become what they are. It was one book where I did not identify myself with any character and yet felt so close to them – their lives, their helplessness, their dreams, their needs. . .the strings attached to people, string that holds you down, string that you gather to find your way, how it needs to be cut sometimes, and then tied again, only to be untied later...until one day the knots become too tight.


  1. Hello S,

    Nice review there. :) hoping to see more book reviews

    1. Hi Ganpati :) Thanks...
      As long as I am reading, I am going to write :)

  2. Wonderful review "S". I also read it in my late teens (is 17 a late teen?) and I am surprised that I enjoyed it while others of my age completely dismissed it (Can't blame them, Half Blood Prince was released in that period)

    I still adore the characters in the book, though I don't remember much of it since I read it long time back. Thanks you taking me back to the book and honestly I didn't think of how should we love when i read it :p

    1. Thanks, Avirandom. I think you MUST read this book again!

      P.S: 17 IS late teen! :P

  3. I commented on this, didn't I? I remember typing out a long comment!
    Anyway, I was saying, I am also one of those who couldn't get through with the book. But I think I tried too early. I must pick it up again and your review definitely pushes me in that direction!
    Have you read The Lowland? Jhumpa Lahiri..You must if you havent already. The best book I have read this year, so far! :)

    1. Oh! I missed your loooong comment :( where did it go!

      Yea I think this could be enjoyed only when you start understanding subtextual references in life and relationships, the twisted angles that make no sense, yet are true.

      I have read The Lowland :) I am a sucker for Lahiri's writings.


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