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Prose. People. The epic scope of continuing political unrest in Kashmir, told by individuals who are in the middle of it.
Arundhati Roy is a great writer. It is, therefore, no surprise that her first book won a Booker Prize. This book is very well written too. At first I felt a little uncomfortable with the charachters but soon they grew on me. Aftab/Anjum is a transgender child born into an orthodox muslim family. She is a woman trapped into a man's body and finds her way to a group of people like her. THis makes her happy and Roy follows her life along the course of the book. The book takes us from the streets of Old Delhi to Kashmir and I was gripped by the violence there. Roy follows the life of three men who are friends and in love with the same woman. The characers are refreshing and history opens up through their lives. A wonderful primer into the Indian social and historical scene. Well worth a read.
There's a brilliant lecture and discussion by the author here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tFom1WihPY
Arundhati Roy is my hero. Her book was tough to follow in places, but it is a wonderful book.
Although the language is poetic I found the story inaccessible. As a reader unfamiliar with subtle aspects of Indian culture and with the vernacular of that country, the book could not hold my attention past 200 pages. I skipped around looking for an anchor in the story line but in the end I put it down. There are too many other good novels on life in India to bother ploughing through this poorly worked story.
This book is a mandatory read for the Canadian Broadcasting Company and its reporters, who conveniently refuse to address Gujarat ka Lalle's extremism and Hindu nationalist blood shedding in Rajasthan and Kashmir, in their coverage of India - Canada relations.
Innovative, interesting, complex and harrowing, this novel is an indictment of the "new India" and the oppression in Kashmir and elsewhere under a nationalist Hindu government.
The confusion I felt about whether this book is a novel or a collection of linked short stories seems appropriate to a story about hijras and transgender people, and the politics of Kashmir and policing in modern India. These aren't topics that are easily separated into nice boxes, and this book does an excellent job of immersing the reader in that ambiguity. Of course that comes at the cost of a nice simple storyline, but I think it's worth it for the scenes and relationships we get to experience.
Can't see what all the fuss is about. Have preferred many other Indian authors.
With regret, after 200 pages I finally had to give up and acknowledge that I still don't know what this book is all about. I found much of it unintelligible, partly because it's filled with words whose meaning remains a mystery to me; in many cases I could not determine whether words referred to persons, events, places, concepts or whatever. Add to that a plot that appears to be going nowhere, a vast number of characters whose relationship to one another or their importance to the story are not apparent. And then add the preponderance of exasperatingly stupid religious animosity and what have we got left? All I can perceive is an exposition of the vast, irreconcilable disconnect between the government and the governed, where those in power regard most of the populace with contempt and much of the populace view the government and its minions as agents of murder, corruption and oppression. Referring to India as "the world's largest democracy" is obviously a sad joke. But does that make for a good novel?
Ms. Roy is a very angry woman. Anger, well channeled and skillfully wielded can be compelling. But here, there are just too many other problems with the writing that get in the way.
Almost two stars in recognition of some gritty humor and one very promising protagonist. The rest I could have done without.
This was a difficult book to read. It traveled back and forth in time, and skipped without warning from one place to another. I almost put it down, but couldn't. So many scenes were so unlikely. An hermaphrodte is born to a woman who wants a son so badly she hides his abnormality as long as she can. He grows up and lives as a flamboyant and rather famous Hijra (transgender) in a Hijra house. Later, he sets up housekeeping in a graveyard and is joined by a changing cast of misfits, philosophers, cast offs, and more-or-less ordinary off-beat characters. There's a mysterious baby who appears suddenly and then disappears but is cared for tenderly by one of the graveyard sometimes-dwellers. There are relationships that twist and bind over the course of decades. There's much love, much loneliness, much connectedness, much sadness, much triumph. I gave this book four stars because it won me over so decisively when I was on the fence. But I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I changed that to five stars. The writing and characterization and insights into human feelings were simply beautiful.
I'm with Brangwinn on her comments. Was so excited to read a book by the Author of the God of Small Things, but found this one long and confusing.
I struggled with this one. It was at times a beautiful story with characters I liked but it wasn't enough for me to really enjoy reading it. Three stars because of the character Anjum.
Highly complex, and polemical at times, but frequently poetic and worth persisting through the confusing parts. It gave me a real feel for a rapidly developing country and Kashmir in particular.
I have loved the past novels of Roy, but this book failed to hold my attention as _The God of Small Things_ did. I’m not sure disjointed is the right word for the way it was written, but I could never gain empathy for the main characters, although I certainly sympathized with what life must be like for homosexuals in India. I guess part of my problem in reading it was that I kept looking for a plot and there wasn’t one.
Faced with the kaleidoscope of chaos that was India in the 80's and still now, what other book could Roy write. So much can be forgiven. How else would an author present such incredibly idiocy of war and cruelty. I don't know. The books starts as though on acid you are perceiving a lotus. The middle is as if the lotus has become a petaled IUD that explodes in your heart slow motion. It ends with a bubble gum happy ending laced with cyanide. Tough sledding.
Can you imagine a book so lush it propels you into a world you've never visited? The scents, sounds, colors and feelings of Delhi, Kashmir and Kerala were almost tangible. Arundhati Roy possesses the ability to build people who tower over a story, sharp and mesmerizing. This book was worth the wait, clearly constructed with care, thought and precision; it left a bittersweet taste in my mouth.