Saturday, July 08, 2006

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

It took me a long time to pick up this very popular novel because I once, years ago, read a page and felt exhausted by the density of language. Which just goes to show taste is sometimes a matter of mood (or maybe of age) because this is probably the best novel I've read since I read Bel Canto and Life of Pi a few years ago. The voice is in simple terms: gorgeous. Literature by Indian authors has become popular in the past decade but of all things this reminded me of the Eudora Welty novel Delta Wedding. The southern setting that permeates Welty's novel is strangely akin to the lush setting of Roy's novel. And it shows how place can be used to achieve an entire novel's tone. Perhaps hot and humid dictates mournful and measured. One interesting aspect of the novel is the way it circles around one pivotal event and the even larger consequences of that event without covering a large number of scenes but by inching its way around a complete, three-dimensional description of the key moments.

I don't want to say anything else about it, I just want you to read it (when you're in the right mood).

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