Book Review

The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy

‘May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun.’

It is rare to come across a book which cuts through the lines of caste, religion, and communism – all at once so morally strenuous yet imaginatively so supple. The story in Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” unfolds the lives of people in Kerala who are captives of social discrimination, Communism and the Keralite Syrian Christian way of life.

Roy’s first novel, unlike other predominantly first novels, is an anti-Bildungsroman, for the characters never properly grown up. The author captures the ambitious medication on the fall and decline of an Indian family and makes it a part political fable, part fairy tale, part psychological drama, and it begins at its chronological end.

A masterpiece and a novel of real ambition, the book shows how small things in life can affect a person’s life. The beauty of the book lies in its way of narration – narrated brilliantly from a third person perspective. Roy invents her own language with words chosen enticingly. The book won the Booker Prize in 1997.

 

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Lookbook – Whose looking at you this season?

I never doubted the link between fashion and marketing, and while I was transferring responsibility from my line of thinking over a cup of coffee, my thoughts were fixated at the launch of Lookbook – a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

When the magazine came together, I kind of felt that it was like a curator’s handbook at a fashion carnival. As I pored over pictures from the season’s collections, gathered from runways around the world, my thoughts sailed back to the time when I was with my fashion editors trying to bring these pages to life – by combining artistry with humour and fashion with extraordinary storytelling.

We rummaged through pages and pages of fashion kitsch and prevailing awkward trends, including tropical animalistic prints to wacky camouflages, before finally landing a role for the more straightforward, or with a turn of phrase if I be allowed to say, the vintage and classic approach to summer dressing.

We made it a point to approach Lookbook in a different way from the already existent fashion magazines. With a primary focus on engaging what was in it for our consumers personally, we zeroed in on various aspects like the context, the perverse twists, and the narrative.

The creativity of various designers and stylists were ushered in – the need to capture the sheer vigor and chutzpah of youth was a unanimous choice. Of course, there were timeless yearnings and timely style (and we all know that the years can get the better of any clothing: the John Travolta leather jacket and motorcycle boots from Grease you swore you would have forever? Doesn’t work anymore.), and suddenly you have your moment of despair, and swing back to fervent faith in the passivity of the young.

But isn’t there always a perennial drive to express ourselves by any means possible? Or, the desire to come to grips with the prevailing trends relevant to the way you live now? It is a gargantuan task of being in fashion without being fashionable.

In the hours and the minutes that followed, portfolios after portfolios were circulated, and we were spellbound more with fear than awe because of the looming proximity of the launch. There was summer suits – light-weight, softly lined, easy-to-carry and slim fitted. There were sporty separates – windbreakers, sweatshirts – with more focus on technical efficiency and aesthetic simplicity. Then, there were beautiful shirts and exquisitely designed tops, intricately patterned and drenched in multiple hues, that impart a certain elegance. No coats or jackets necessary.

And there we were, all perched on our swivel chairs, delivering our goods in our quietly determined voices; weaving in imagination, art and fashion altogether in a little glass room. Devising smart fashion for the here and there, and quite possibly, for a few years to come – encapsulating into the magazine: the various incarnations of style and trends to galvanize generations and to start a fashion revolution.

When Lookbook hits the high-streets and newsstands, the story will begin.