Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Absolutely breathtaking. Sometimes you have to just stop reading a book either because you dont want it to end or because the situation and characters are so real and moving you dont want any harm to come to them.
This was one of those books - I am only sorry I have never read this before. Ostensibly a family drama but set in a turbulent India not often written about the 60s when the Maoist movement was just beginning to take off, The writer links the "small things" of the household with the big picture of Indian society: class and caste struggle, the machinations of the Stalinist dominated CP and trade unions, the role of religion, human desire and abuse
The scenes with the twins - the fulcra for the book - are funny, well observed but ultimately almost unbearably sad. Nature and animals are a common occurrence almost a character themselves - coming to a head in the moving final chapter.
The narrative structure is very clever and in a funny way prepares and disarms you for what comes next. It's a bit cinematic and I read that Roy also did compose some screen plays but she also trained as an Architect which you can also see in the craft of the work.
Some of the most significant and saddest happenings in the book take place almost in a flash but their impact is huge.
There is so much in this book I could write and talk about it for hours. It reminds me a little of Franzen in its witty/sad/informed narrative of human relationships and societal structures.
In some ways not a surprise that Arundhati Roy has not written a major piece of fiction since. Testament to her humanity though that she has committed herself to activism and raising awareness for the Indian peoples.