The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy This novel centered upon twins, the boy Estha and the girl Rahel, during a crucial time when they're seven-years-old in 1969 and when they're reunited 24 years later. I found many of the cultural details depicting modern India intriguing: the complex interplay between religion, politics, region, ethnicity, race, gender, the colonial legacy and especially caste. But I found the story hard to get into and never engrossing. Partly this was because of jarring jumps in time, which left me disoriented at times, especially since it often wasn't transitioned well or unified through a single point of view but told in omniscient. I found the constant foreshadowing of "the Terror" annoying quickly. The imagery and metaphor, even if at times striking and lovely, is overdone. Never mind the often choppy syntax and that the writing suffers from the Capitalization Syndrome of Death(tm). (I've seen words capitalized to good comic effect in some works, but here I felt it overdone and distracting.) My unfamiliarity with Indian culture, particularly names, and the multi-generational nature of the story meant that in self-defense I had to draw up a genealogical chart to try to keep track of the characters--all of whom left me cold. (And though I might have my issues with Christianity, my goodness what evil caricatures of Christians in this book!) Besides a genealogical chart, the book could have also used a glossary--a lot of foreign words are left untranslated you can't get from the context. Around page 50 the characters started coming into focus for me, but then about a third in I hit my first "oh no" moment. This tale was just too sordid and bleak for me and contained scenes that made me feel literally nauseous.