It is my Nth read of the book and every time I get to 'naaley.. tomorrow' the last line, it leaves a cold hurting feeling inside much like Pappachi's moth. I read the book for the first time when I was seventeen and I must admit, it took me two reads to follow her pattern of writing. Back then I was more inspired by the Kerala touch to the novel, since I am from there. However over the many reads, I have come to love the book for much beyond that!
Since I unquestionably love the book, I will split my review to be as unbiased as possible :
Why the book may be loved by many -
1. Roy's writing is a new language in itself. She creates a revolution with the innovative style of using words that paint a clear picture rather than flood it with jarring vocabulary. Some of the writing that comes to mind - house with a river-sense, Christianity came in a boat and seeped in like tea from a tea-bag, fisherman with sea secrets in his eyes, the creeper hung like half-sneeze-coming
2. The story is told through the eyes of the twins and the language is suited to depict the mind of children. Almost all the writing comes directly from the way a child's mind thinks. This adds the element of wit in book and some quips and sarcasm are laugh-out-loud hilarious. This makes it easier and at the same time difficult for the reader to grasp how the little minds can be scarred with a moment's doing or words ( like the orange-drink-man incident )
3. The story in itself is not unique; if not for Roy's shrewd looming of the motif in flashbacks and falsh-forwards, I am sure the novel is but ordinary. This style of writing in itself can make it difficult for a reader who doesn't enjoy complexity. It is more suited for someone who finds clarity in chaos.
4. The story woven like a web, with details and nuances, often strewn with questions in a child's mind (Why dont birds drop dead from the sky?) only makes it more lovable with more reads; for it is like prose, you realize you learn something new every time you read it. Even though the story stays as clear as blue sky in ones mind, a second read doesn't thwart the joy of reading.
Why the book may be loathed by some -
1. The writing is rocking continuously backwards-forwards and this can easily put certain readers off if they hate to keep track of the novel and expect the novel to keep track of them!
2. The story is like any other booker-prize material, ends in tragedy, and how a single event leads to a complete collapse. For someone looking for a unique storyline you have picked up the wrong book.
3. Roy generously uses malayalam in parts, the language spoken in the southern most state of Kerala in India, where the story is set. Although it is no different from many references of hindi words in Indian author books; for a novice reader who has no clue about this southern part of India, this reference can be irksome without a guide.
4. The end of the novel is morbid, it defies all the love-laws, as Roy puts it. And this in itself can make a reader hate the book.
5. Her ability to create a new language in the writing mostly in jointed-words, may not be appealing to the literary-strict! She tries to bring understanding into the otherwise illogical language..
If you havent read the book, I cannot recommend it more highly; for her writing is brilliant and you will be treating yourself to 300 odd pages of prose-wonder, innocence of children and may be even enjoy the language of joint-words.
Have you read this book? Did you love it or hate it?