I finished my first Reading India book last night, Arundhati Roy’s first – and only – published novel, The God of Small Things.
It’s a book I had tried once before to read, and not gotten through the first twenty or so pages. This time, because of my challenge, I persisted. And for a long while I was glad I did. I enjoyed the lush prose, and the characterisations, and sometimes it was VERY funny. I marvelled at how someone so young (actually, she wasn’t that young, about 35 when it was published) could write a first novel like this one. I read variously that: she doesn’t edit her work, this book wasn’t edited, she never edited it. And at times I thought it should have been more worked but also, accepted it was part of the rambunctious, meandering style.
But I did get tired of the meandering. And I got a bit tired trying to work out the time jumps. Usually they were easily enough followed but sometimes it just seemed to spit out into a really weird place. The structure was pretty complex, and lots of point of view shifts; quite unsettling.
I finished it. I was disappointed with the ending. There is a death, of course, and I was disappointed with how that death came about. I felt I’d been led to believe one thing but really, it was a bit tricksy.
As I was coming to the end of my reading, I read somewhere that it was a poorer version of Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie.
‘That’s decided my next read,’ I thought to myself.
So after I finished the Roy book I picked up the Rushdie, and read the first 70 pages. It didn’t matter that it was after 2am last night. Very quickly, I was seeing points of similarity, echoes of Rushdie in the later-published book. Things to do with moles on faces, fatness, pickles and bodies of water. Ah, Arundhati Roy, you naughty thing. Why were you not more careful? I wonder if Salman had anything to say about it. If he’d been on twitter he would have not been able to resist a small shot across the bow, I’m sure.