The god of small things (sort of a book review)

7.5/10

I read this book about two and a half years ago for the first time and I wouldn’t have bought it if it weren’t for this outrageously appealing look of it having been hastily thrown on the dusty floor of an old book store selling second hand books, waiting there patiently and a little angrily to be picked up, put on one of the shelves or on top of one of the piles on the floor at least. I had been looking for some other book that I don’t recall the name of any more.

This is the only work of Arundhati Roy that I have read so far and the score above should tell you that I absolutely loved it. It’s perfect for someone like me; to whom any spoiler is not spoiler enough. She tells us the ending of the book in chapter 1 and I think that’s admirable and really really brave of her but of course she is a great writer and would not, for the love of her life, ruin the mystery or to say “the confusion lay in a deeper, more secret place” .The lack of mysteriousness in the tone of the book makes it so much more intriguing. Roy would just nonchalantly mention things as if we are already supposed to know the whole story. She goes ‘oh yeah so it happens’ and we can’t help but think “no shit but HOW”.

I like how she questions the vulgarity of the love laws that exist(ed) in India where the color of your skin and your profession and your father’s profession and your great great grandfather’s profession decide(d) your worth as a human subject in a capitalist society but most importantly, it decided who you can love and how much. It’s the same with the whole world, to be honest. It’s really something that needs to be talked about more. A lot of our cultural norms are severely racist and misogynistic.

Ammu. When I first read it, I thought Ammu could have avoided all the despair that took over the lives of Rahel and Estha by, well, by not falling in love with someone she wasn’t supposed to look at, let alone be with. Then I realized, that’s the whole point of it, isn’t it? One can’t decide a human being’s value based on the color of their skin and the surname of their ancestors. It’s kind of stupid but after having been disappointed by history many many times, it’s not hard to imagine humans doing stupid stuff anymore.

Human 1 : oh look at that! It’s so stupid!

Human 2: yeah ikr. let’s do the same.

Human 1: eh.. okay.

That a woman that they had already damned, now had little to lose, and could therefore be dangerous.

I suppose a woman who has nothing to lose would be kind of dangerous. Just the thought of a woman who has already faced every painful consequence of every bad decision is so wild, in a way. I guess it’s the same for every other gender. Humans are shackled to the ground because of their loved ones and the inanimate and the abstract things that they hold dear. I wonder if anyone ever runs out of things to lose.

Ammu was disgraced and disowned and lost Velutha to the hate laws but she still had her twins. Her twins, to whom she was both father and mother and whom she loved double.
Despite having been anchored to the world by her children, after Velutha, she was but an Ammu shaped hole in the universe. I wouldn’t call that dangerous. Haunting and heavy on the conscience but not in the least, threatening and scary.

The brown household and it’s great many condemnable traits have been portrayed really well. Mammachi’s weird obsession with her son and her hatred towards his love interests, Pappachis jealous-of-his-wife antics, baby kochamma’s gaslighting parasitic behavior, a divorcee being treated like scum, the american cousin being all the hype and the apple of everyone’s eyes even though she would sooner call them a bunch of idiots than family.

I have no comments about Rahel and Estha’s relationship to be honest except that they seem to me to have been portrayed like soulmates. Brother and sister, who always said “we” and never “I”. I mean soulmates aren’t always some stereotypical heterosexual non-platonic couple, right? Well, I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure I’m not.

This novel might be called depressing and too sad in some circles but it’s just common everyday stories of every other house. Stealthy slavery. In many households (especially in joint family systems) still, there is a kind of an absurd power struggle amongst the absurd number of people who think they are in charge of everyone else’s life and more importantly, finances. Hiding behinds the many excuses of the family’s honor and shameless emotional blackmailing, little mischievous villains ruin more than they would ever think themselves capable of ruining.

“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”

This master piece won the booker prize in 1997. This book is so important and filled with an emotion so raw and genuine that one can’t help but feel both dumbstruck and aggrieved. I love how the story is structured. It is as if Roy blended her skills as an Architect and as a writer to create a very unique way of story telling.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (sort of a book review)

7.8/10

No one:

Definitely not Sibyl Vane

Not even Lord Henry

Dorian Gray: anyways so what if Hallward is a cake?

Now this book is a master piece. Oscar Wilde has truly eaten every writer up with this one. I can almost picture him with a smug smile and sad eyes on his throne somewhere in the afterworld or downworld (in case he is a vampire). I can understand why this book is a dark academia favorite.

The metaphors in it are insane. The whole theme is insane, to begin with. I’d list all the metaphors but I am afraid I didn’t get half of them. (will reread at some point). I think that every other line was an epiphany that Mr. Wilde decided to throw at us. Consider this

Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own
soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly,—that is what each of us is here for.

And this

There was something tragic in a friendship so colored by romance.

And

We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography.

And many many more that make you take a deep breath and smile to yourself then silently curse because what the heck was that?

So Dorian is this disgustingly rich dude with an angelic face (same old white boy charms tbh) golden hair, blue eyes, pink lips, whatnot and everyone who has ever seen him believes that he is an angel amongst men. On top of it all, his innocence is noticable and praised left right and center. Later on in the book, when he is slightly older, everyone thinks that he is that bitch for sure but also not shit. He still looks like a Greek god but his mind is in the gutter; is what the general public opinion is.

So in the prime of their youth, his friend Basil Hallward paints a picture of him. This very picture makes Dorian realize that he is hot. (I blame that on Harry of course). And Dorian totally loses it and becomes jealous of his own picture for remaining young forever and ever and ever. Youth is the biggest happiness and aging is dumb; or so dude thought. Let’s talk about Harry now. He is mood, for starters. Secondly, Wilde used Harry to unleash his philosophy of literally anything and everything on our already deliciously over burdened brains. Thirdly, Harry needs to chill. Basil said he is a bad influence and we trust Basil, as the owner of the only brain cell in the book, to tell the truth. I mean look at what he brought Gray to but honestly, Gray would have walked himself there too (Ok so I knew for real that he isn’t right in the head by the way he was simping for Sibyl)

Our boy Dorian is always the talk of the town of course and God knows what awful agendas he used to have in the London of that time because he was infamous. He doesn’t age a day. Nor does sin write itself across his face but guess what happens to the painting? Guess what happens to the painting ??

Well well well I shouldn’t just spoil the whole book like this. So take my world for it. It’s crazy good.

It’s one of those books that I really regret having read from a screen. It deserves to be held and put themed bookmarks in, put on a shelf and given admiring looks to now and then.

The Kite Runner (sort of a book review)

Personal rating : 7/10

I read it back in 2017 when I had just started college and it was a whole new world with it’s ruthless competitive nature. This book brought me back to me from the cultural shock that I had just received. Here, read a book. Be you.

Besides that , one more thing that makes this book really special is the fact that it has a fragment of past that doesn’t matter to most readers but nevertheless is important to me in so many ways.
You might think it’s odd how I am writing this in 2020, three years after reading it. Well, what can I say? Somethings stick with you. Some books you just don’t forget and move on from. Some books do leave an impact. Moreover, I just finished rereading it.
( Definitely not because being at home has taught me a thing or two).
Hosseini is a phenomenal story teller. A thousand splendid sun’s and And the mountains echoed are both fine examples of it. But with The Kite Runner, he ate it.
Absolutely ate it.
If that’s the case then why not 10/10, right?
Well, for starters I am almost never satisfied with how a story ends. It’s no different for the kite runner. It’s ending , even though it was happy, was in fact kind of cringe worthy. (I do hope Hosseini never reads this).
Nevertheless, I should not complain! Why should the world of fiction match the plain realities of life? If the ending is unbelievable and unrealistic then so be it.
But if there is something about the characters that you find so awfully relatable then it is , I confess, hard to get over such a brutal assassination of their whole character arch.
There you have a kid, belonging to a race so looked down  upon and discriminated against, son of a father who pretends to be his master, sexually harassed, physically abused, alone but true to his word , kind hearted and grateful. If any one deserved a forced happy ending, it was him, Hassan. But I guess we had to make it look realistic.
Then we have his friend who lived in the big house and read such awesome books , owned pretty cool watches and was a son of a father who wanted the best for him. His repentance arch was impressive. Amir is a protagonist in the true sense of it.
I thought about Hassan’s dream, the one about us swimming in the lake. There is no monster, he’d said, just water. Except he’d been wrong about that. There was a monster in the lake. It had grabbed Hassan by the ankles, dragged him to the murky bottom. I was the monster
Why did he have to make it, though?
Who knows why in all of his stories the sad remains sad and gets sadder for a change. ( reference to Maryam from A thousand splendid sun’s)
Well that’s about all the personal reasons I had for the -3.
Now let’s come to the bright side. The 7!
The kite runner , like the rest of Hosseini’s books, paints a picture of Afghanistan from before and during the dark times it faced and is still facing. These books are important to so many people. It has their stories in it. Their pasts. And a lot of these stories are beautiful. Amongst the river of English words in the book they find some random Farsi, Dari and Pashto words that, I bet, must be heart warming.
This is one of the stories that keep you on your tippy toes; that you just can not stop reading, when every
last line of the page urges you to turn the page and read some more. And eventhough the misery of the story gnaws at your heart, brings tears to your eyes (literally),you are compelled to love it all the way.
Such a piece of priceless art. A story of love, friendship, brotherhood. A story of racism, terrorism, fate and privilege.