My uncle, who is an avid reader, recommended this book to me. It’s one of his favorite books, especially for the beauty of the language. I, being an amateur reader, really had great expectations from this book. However, it fell short by some way.
Things that I liked:
– Wonderful language which, despite being a tad flowery sometimes, is quite lucid
– Deep characterization with back stories for all characters
– Wonderful descriptions of environment, ambiance, etc. throughout the book
– Description of Chacko’s love story (short yet extremely well written)
– Masterful way of keeping the mystery of Sophie Mol’s death and Ammu’s back story till the end (revealing only bits and pieces in between). However, the end was quite predictable (the drowning part in the river while crossing the river). I thought something interesting might have happened which resulted in that happening.
Things that I hated:
– Despicable, disturbing, sudden, nauseating appearances of sensual scenes which are quite unnecessary (e.g. Orange drink Lemon drink incident, ugh!, and Rahel and Estha having sex in the final chapter, very difficult to digest)
– Unnecessary descriptions of Kathakali dancers, TV episodes which characters are watching, bathroom habits of people, different insects, birds in the surroundings (one or two is fine but not 5-10 in a single paragraph)
– The innumerable time shifts. Can’t understand whether the characters are still young or old. Extremely confusing.
– Excessive capitalization of words without any purpose. Too many broken sentences and self-constructed words.
– The main plot (love between Ammu and Velutha) is not described till the last few pages (which somewhat redeem the book). However, the nauseating sexual parts present in that part are difficult to digest again. To be fair, even Chetan Bhagat and other Indian authors don’t describe sensual scenes in so explicit detail. Despite that, they’re criticized of inserting too many such scenes. I’m in support of them in this thing.
– The reason why Ammu decided to take such a huge risk of persisting with the lust affair with Velutha is still unknown. All characters are so irritating (Ammu, Rahel, Estha, Sophie Mol, everybody) that you don’t feel for them, even for Ammu.
– Forced attempt at humor. Some sarcastic elements were good, though.
– Estha, he lived in a cara-van (Dum-dum). This (Popeye the sailor inspired) sentence when placed at sensitive portions where you somehow feel a trifle of pity for him is dreadfully irritating. Why would you forcibly put comedy in an emotional scene; it really dilutes the experience. The something shaped holes in the universe style is also repeated too much. Throughout the book it seems like Arundhati Roy is hell bent of impressing the readers with her language skills rather than indulging them in the story.
– There are some more things which I can’t remember.
Ultimately, I really didn’t enjoy reading the novel. Some parts were brilliant, but the overall effect was unsatisfactory.
I’m just a debut, struggling author (and an amateur reader); it really doesn’t make a difference but it’s 2.75 stars for the Booker Prize winner from my side. Sorry.