‘God of Small Things’ worth read despite measured pace
Set in Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” explores the omnipotence of the “Love Laws” that “lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.”
The novel opens at the funeral of Sophie Mol, the young niece of the protagonist, Ammu. Mimicking the karmic cycle, the book’s tragedies do not discriminate based on generation, but rather come back to eat alive those who bear the burden of debt.
Sophie Mol’s death is the first tragedy, but the remainder of the novel works to piece together the story of the event surrounding her death, leading to a final moment of revelation that unravels the entire novel.
It leaves the reader with nothing but a final chapter of love’s cruel curse. Ammu meets her forbidden love for the first time, and at that moment realizes that their love can never be accepted and that their union will have to be atoned for.
Exposing the grip of the caste system on the novel’s consciousness, Roy’s narrative ultimately places the onus of the novel’s greatest tragedy on an unknowable force, the magnitude of which cannot be placed entirely on humanity. It is a tragedy that is unfathomable in its power, and it arrives only in the last 30 pages of this 320-page novel.
Roy guides her readers through different key moments in the lives of her characters, each one revealing secrets while critiquing different aspects of Indian society. It examines the patriarchal nature of the police force, the pervasive power of an antiquated social consciousness, and what happens when religion dictates love.
Much like the characters, Roy manages to keep the novel’s secrets at bay, even though they are constantly on the verge of being revealed.
This novel is at once an example of a mastery of prose and a great and beautiful tragedy. It can come off as a slow-moving work, but the finale makes clear that the novel’s slow pace is intentional. If you are looking for a book that moves through vantage points seamlessly, explores Indian culture, and redefines preconceived ideas of the allure of home, give “The God of Small Things” a read. You won’t regret it.
Junot Díaz's collection of love stories re-examines masculinity
Critically acclaimed first for his premier collection of short stories, “Drown,” and later for his Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” Junot Díaz is deserving of equal praise for his third work, “This Is How You Lose Her.”
Díaz does not create flat characters in his literature. All of his characters have more depth than we first expect, and all of them are morally ambiguous. Machismo is prominently foregrounded in the collection, which at times caricatures masculinity before showing cowardly men shy away from the strong female roles that form the backbone of the book.
If constructions of masculinity and femininity weren’t tall enough to tackle in a slight collection (only 216 pages), Díaz is able to examine the intersectonality of each of his characters by focusing on their race, which is extremely complicated by their Dominican identities. They at once harbor resistance to their African roots while equally distancing themselves from American standards of whiteness. However, what makes the characters most amiable is their vulnerability.
Orientation: Culture shock: facing campus stereotypes
When I was originally asked to write this, I wasn’t sure I’d have any advice to give incoming students. Entering my junior year at Bowdoin, I’m more and more convinced that I won’t know the answer to this place until I’m handed my diploma; only then will everything make sense.
As it stands, I would not change any of the decisions I made over the last two years—that includes the good and the bad. There have been plenty of both to go around. But each decision, each mistake, each experience, has only led me closer to finding my place at Bowdoin and trusting that it is the right school for me.
Coming from a public high school in the conservative South as a Hispanic gay male, Bowdoin seemed like heaven and hell at the same time. I was surrounded by people that, superficially, I had little in common with.
Second Annual Hunger Games to take place Sunday
Students armed with dodgeballs, water balloons, and Nerf balls will battle it out on the Quad this Sunday at the Second Annual Hunger Games, inspired by Suzanne Collins’ popular young adult book series.