So far, Indian writer Arundhati Roy (born in 1961) has been the author of many political essays but only one novel, The God of Small Things, published to great acclaim in 1997 — the year of the fiftieth anniversary of India’s independence — translated in a multitude of languages and the recipient of the Booker Prize. Over the years, the novel has probably garnered as much interest as controversy from readers, critics and scholars throughout the world. In the West, it was praised by some for its depiction of the political, social, religious and caste systems in South India, the virtuosity of its multilayered plot and its linguistic inventiveness, but criticised by others for its supposed regionalism and its verbosity. In India, and more particularly in Kerala where the novel is set, it was blamed for its attack against local politics and specifically its representation of the Communist Party. It was also the object of a lawsuit on charges of obscenity and was accused of not being Indian enough. Such diverse reactions confirm that the novel tackles sensitive issues and, to a certain extent, rekindles divisions between the East and the West, those ‘Edges, Borders, Boundaries, Brinks and Limits’ (3) which Roy is constantly questioning in the book. The God of Small Things is a novel which eschews traditional structural straitjackets, blurs generic lines, deconstructs chronology, mixes literary and cultural traditions, lets the written and the oral, the poetic and the trivial coexist, but also presents an Indian society in which classification, and the exclusion which derives from it, hold centre stage through the hierarchy of castes and gender, the categorisation of religions and social classes, and the strict respect of diverse divisions.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Arundhati Roy
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number