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Summary

Winner of the 1997 Booker Prize. The richly exotic story of the childhood the twins Esthappen and Rahel craft for themselves amongst India's vats of banana jam and mountains of peppercorns.

Here, perhaps, is the greatest Indian novel by a woman. Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is an astonishingly rich, fertile novel, teeming with life, colour, heart-stopping language, wry comedy and a hint of magical realism.

Set against a background of political turbulence in Kerala, Southern India, The God of Small Things tells the story of twins Esthappen and Rahel. Amongst the vats of banana jam and heaps of peppercorns in their grandmother's factory, they try to craft a childhood for themselves amidst what constitutes their family - their lonely, lovely mother; their beloved uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist and bottom pincher); and their avowed enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grand-aunt).

©1997 Arundhati Roy (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Richly deserving the rapturous praise it has received on both sides of the Atlantic…. The God of Small Things achieves a genuine tragic resonance. It is, indeed, a masterpiece." ( Observer)
" The God of Small Things genuinely is a masterpiece, utterly exceptional in every way, and there can be little doubt that posterity will place it very near the top of any shortlist of Indian novels published this century." (William Dalyrmple, Harpers and Queen)
"The quality of Ms. Roy's narration is so extraordinary - at once so morally strenuous and so imaginatively supple - that the reader remains enthralled all the way through to its agonizing finish...it evokes in the reader a feeling of gratitude and wonderment." ( The New York Times)

What listeners say about The God of Small Things

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    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating, magical

It has been a long wait. Twenty years after the print publication of “The God of Small Things”, and with 6 months until the planned release of Arundhati Roy’s second novel, “The Ministry of Happiness” it is a great joy to finally have an unabridged audio edition of “The God of Small Things” available.

Roy’s novel grows slowly, a piece at a time. The further into the story we get the more we begin to understand what has gone before - how earlier information fits into the new pieces. From a small shoot the novel grows into something very large, where events will irreversibly affect many lives.

The novel won the 1997 Man Booker Prize and I expect that it was both the captivating story and the beautiful prose that made it stand out. To me both were absolutely magical.

Aysha Kala’s narration is, for the most part, wonderful. There are minor distractions, one word I think she may have misread, a brief slip of an accent and there are a couple of glitches in the recording toward the end of the book.

Overall I think a book of this stature deserved better treatment. I am so grateful it is available unabridged in audio that I am happy to overlook minor flaws in the production.

If you’ve wondered about the book & are considering spending a credit on it, do. It’s one of a kind - at least until the release of “The Ministry of Happiness”.

32 people found this helpful

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Dense but rewarding

This is a very dense audiobook. Not the sort to listen to whilst working. The whole thing feels like a 12 h poem. Beautifully written. Words and phrases and characters that will stick with you. I almost gave up, but I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. Very rewarding read.

15 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 18-07-19

What a dissappointment

This was named as a book one should read before one dies. Crikey, I lost the will to live. It's basically someone recounting the entire lives of an endless stream of characters. We keep jumping backwards and forwards in time, and the characters are endless. At no time could I really get into the character of one before the author changed to another person in another time. Very irritating indeed. First time I have been unable to finish a book.

12 people found this helpful

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beautiful

My absolute favourite audio book so far. The narrator is engaging and enjoyable to listen to. The plot is clever and set across different times. Starting at the ending and ending in the middle, it keeps the reader interested throughout the narrative. Desperate to know not what happened but why and how. The final chapter is bittersweet and all of the imagery is beautiful.

11 people found this helpful

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Sensitive and clever...

Having read the book several times I am delighted this has been released as audiobook finally.

The story comes across easily and I would recommend this to the countless people that have sadly given up on the book because they found it hard to follow.

Narration is perfect too! Beautifully produced!

9 people found this helpful

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Exquisitely, horrifyingly, grotesquely and tragically beautiful.

Read this when it first came out and it instantly became my favourite book. I have come back to it all these years later on audible and it is every bit as captivating, pulling you into the lives of the characters and making you feel everything.
The book covers many, many upsetting topics (partner abuse, child sexual abuse, death, murder) it talks about the caste system and rules of men and women. It does all this in such a vivid, almost palpable way that you can't help but finding yourself deeply involved with the characters in such a way that you come away feeling angry, elated, frustrated, hopeful, sick, distraught and much more.
Highly recommend!

18 people found this helpful

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bloody brilliant but may leave you slightly....

bloody brilliant but may leave you slightly traumatised! One if the best but most disturbing books I have ever read/listened to.


8 people found this helpful

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Extraordinary flexibility of image making

Not quite stream of consciousness nor simply magical realism, but a heady poetry. So many images to highlight and pray to remember. Not for the faint-hearted.

6 people found this helpful

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Just listen to it!

This book was a revelation - such poetic writing and alliteration. Aysha Kala brought all the characters and settings to life and really painted the authors pictures well. All the different voices were handled beautifully. I didn't want it to end. Totally recommend this audiobook

4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully tragic.

A fantastic narrator who brought the characters to life with amazing authenticity. The language of this book is so rich I will now read it for myself!

4 people found this helpful

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  • S PNW
  • 11-07-20

A different type of listening experience

I'll be honest, I struggled to finish listening to this. In thinking how best to describe this book, I found it like a thick, rich dessert. It's beautiful, decadent even, but hard to take in too much at one time. I found it hard to follow and stay engaged.
Listening to this book is like having someone describe in very minute detail a rich, beautiful tapestry. It's not so much a moving through a story from point A to B (although this does happen) as it is an exercise in description and detail within the rough framework of the characters of the story and setting. The ideas are important, the characters deep and beautifully flawed, but for me the pace and flow got lost in the many many descriptions and scene settings.
The author uses simile to an extent that became completely distracting to me. It's beautifully descriptive, but once noticed, it seemed that every other description or setting was bathed in simile. Like a candle dipped repeatedly in wax to build it up. Like an encore to an encore. Like a long turn on a road where you wait and wait until you finally see the path ahead. You get the idea.
The performance and narrator were sensational. I did finally finish it but, like a large delicious meal you've eaten past satiety, as much as I liked it, I'd had my fill and was ready to be done.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rodrigo
  • 11-05-19

Listen closely

This is an amazing story worth all the praise it can be given. It is not an easy listen, but it rewards attention with a wealth of details and a thought-provoking tragic story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Yvette Williams
  • 17-08-18

Beautiful

How is it that moments of words can take you, tear your heart and bind you to it all at once

1 person found this helpful

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  • les mcgregor
  • 05-04-21

Profound novel. Perfect reader.

The story is presented as a beautifully complex set of weaving, threading dynamically different life force threads into a post modern image.

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  • Hus
  • 03-08-20

A sprawling and devastating story

Roy’s writing is poetic and flowing like a river. It carries with it a staggering amount of detail and a language of its characters that’s wholly unique in every way. It can get repetitive and seem slow but it’s intentional in its pacing and truly makes you realize the value of moments in the passage of time.

The narration by Aysha Kala is great.. for the most part. She can translate Roy’s complex writing into digestible emotion. However, my biggest pet peeve was her Indian accent. It was quite exaggerated and a lot of the inflections seemed almost caricatured. I honestly would not have minded if she performed all the dialogues in her original British accent. If you’re Indian- be forewarned, you will be annoyed at the accent. Apart from that- great narration and very moving.

I wholly recommend this title!

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  • Sheelagh
  • 29-02-20

wonderful

Simply wonderful. This is a story that has to be on a list of books one has to listen to

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  • diana mackenzie
  • 31-10-19

a glimpse into Indian lives

an amazing story of lives of a family in India. beautifully written and the narrator was superb
as a audible it is better than reading it. heartily recommended

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  • Dawn
  • 08-08-18

wow

This book was intense! I loved every minute of it. the end had me in a grip and didn't let go until the end. I definately recommend!

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  • Clemo
  • 13-07-18

Boring and pointless

Endurance plus to get to finish line and ask what for? What is more known now than at the beginning? Round and round in circles of description and description, tedious and time wasting yet there was hope of something more than disappointment. Never again...

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  • DFK
  • 29-10-17

Beautiful, moving story; Kala is sublime

This story had me engrossed from the start, and it was moving, beautifully written, and touches the heart. Though this story took place in India, it could have been set in many other places where there are taboos, social strata, and a class society - which means, almost anywhere. What was unique to India, was of course, the atmosphere, the landscape, the color, often quite dreary, and Roy depicted this beautifully. The narrator, Aysha Kala was just sublime. Her voice is sweet and calming, she handles the delicate and difficult parts with sensitivity and delicacy. She also does a wonderful job of speaking in Indian English when called for, but I would not want to see her typecast for Indian stories (or parts), alone. She is too versatile for that. She did a great job with other accents, her natural accent is lovely, and she did a fairly credible job with an American accent. I’d love to hear much more from Kala, and hope that since she is quite young I have a lot to look forward to. Aysha - I hope you read this! Kudos to you!