“Where the Love Laws lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.”
Here’s the thing I don’t get about me and literary fiction: why do I hesitate so much in picking up these books? I mean, yes, they tend to be slow-reading, and every once in a while, they will take their toll on me, but so often I end up giving them 5 stars that I can’t understand what stops me.
But I digress; let’s talk Bingo.
If my calculations are correct, and I think they are, I have 2 spots left for a full bingo: Uncannon and Libations. I have a list of about 10 books that I have read but not yet reviewed over the past couple of months, and I had been toying with the idea of using N.K. Jemesin’s The Fifth Season as my Uncannon spot. But while N.K. Jemesin might be a black woman; she’s still American. “Something other than Eurocentric”, you said; “Challenge yourself as much as you are able”, you said. Well, thank you. 🙂
After scouring my seemingly never-ending Audible library, I decided at the end of September I would read The God of Small Things for Uncannon: it was written by a woman of colour; it takes place in India; it is wholly out of my comfort zone.
First, let me tell you a little bit about this audiobook. The narration is a revelation, even if in the beginning I had to read it physically in parallel to manage the non-linear timeline of the story. The story is very fluid and mostly told from a child’s point of view, and Aysha Kala does a beautiful job of capturing the magic and innocence of youth in her performance. She also does a stellar job balancing the British accent for the narration and the Indian accent used for the dialogue. She also sings in a child-like voice at points, and it’s an absolute joy. Combining her light narration with the story’s heavy themes creates a unique experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
On that note, this book needs to come with a content warning for just about everything. It’s all done incredibly tastefully and with a strange sense of poetic injustice. Still, you might want to be prepared for it, so I’d encourage you to look it up before picking it up if you’re sensitive about your literature.
This book is a family saga that takes place simultaneously in 1969 and 1993; this book is a history lesson on mid-20th century India; this book is a collection of memories and a child’s lullaby; this book is a study of trauma and its effects on those around it; this book is a hard look into patriarchal societies and casteism and child abuse and police brutality; this book is a Booker Prize winner and an almost-banned book; this book is a poem, and a mystery, and so many different things that I am having a hard time talking about it because I don’t want to spoil it. But most of all, this book is about how a series of small things culminate in a big tragedy, built by multiple instances where children are failed by the adults around them. It’s a hard book to read, but it might have been the most important book I have read this year.
I’ve been re-writing this paragraph multiple times, trying to come up with something to tell you about this book, but I think I’m going to leave it here with a quote that broke my heart.
“When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”