Book of the Month: The God of Luck

 

I actually read this book two years ago but stumbled across it the other day while decluttering my library shelf (i.e. trying desperately to find that overdue library book that probably–most likely–definitely–has been absorbed by the black hole that is my library shelf.) Since the book left a hugely lasting impression on me, I thought The God of Luck deserved to be features as the February book of the month.

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Book of the Month: This is How You Lose Her

 

So.

Junot Diaz.

Can I just say that, of the wide variety of authors I’ve been exposed to, Junot Diaz is by far one of my favorite? My first foray into his work was in high school, as part of a contemporary literature course. The first text? “How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie.)” I read The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao a couple years later, while serving as a short-term au pair in the summer months of my undergraduate career. This is How You Lose Her features the (recurring) Yunior, which draws curious parallels between this collection of short stories and his previous work (Drown and The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao).  A collection of short stories, it’s a ridiculously fast read (a given, with Diaz’s gift with words).

 

When Change Means What?

This is the final post in a series of blog posts (that I began here, and continued here, here, and hereon Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on the body, the nation, and postcolonial meta-narratives. In an attempt to parse the tensions I feel the in the book–and many others of its era–I continue my thoughts below. 

So, where does this all leave us? I began this series of blog post with an extensive close reading of one small, some might argue insignificant, scene in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. From this I concluded two things: 1) that the scene (and the novel as a whole) expressed a deep seeded anxiety around the concept of postcolonialism, and 2) this anxiety about postcolonialism pushes for an exploration of postcolonialism outside the structure (read: metanarrative) of postcolonialism. Read more

(Ex)Portability and Recrudescence

This post continues a conversation I began with this post and continued with this, and this post on Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on the body, the nation, and postcolonial meta-narratives. In an attempt to parse the tensions I feel the in the book–and many others of its era–I continue my thoughts below. 

The God of Small Things obsesses over migration. In the first 20 pages alone, there are 5 instances of individuals migrating to and from Ayemenem; there are many more references to people travelling to and from places via highway, boat, motorbike, foot; they go to places like Australia, Canada, Great Britain. There is a sense that no one is ever where they want to be, where they’re supposed to be. No one is ever settled even when they are home. Why this agitation? Why this inability to stay still? Read more

Communist Movements and Postcolonial Metanarratives

This post continues a conversation I began with this post and continued with this post on Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on the body, the nation, and postcolonial meta-narratives. In an attempt to parse the tensions I feel the in the book–and many others of its era–I continue my thoughts below. 

Let’s backtrack for a moment and take a look at one of the largest figures in the novel: the Communist movement.

As presented in the novel, the Communist movement is a nostrum:

“As a reformist movement that never overtly questioned the traditional values of a caste-ridden, extremely traditional community. The Marxists worked from within the communal divides, never challenging them, never appearing not to. They offered a cocktail revolution” (The God of Small Things, 64).

 

As Roy writes in the above quote, the movement—intended to overthrow the bourgeoisie and bring justice to and for the exploited proletariat—is nothing more than a “cocktail revolution.” It panders to each faction, easing fear of the Other for both. Chacko, uncle to the twins, epitomizes the waffling, self-serving tendencies of the movement. Oxford educated, Chacko often fondly invites the female workers at the factory to become comrades even as he reinforces the very ideals he ostensibly opposes: “[Chacko] would call pretty women who worked in the factory to his room, and on the pretext of lecturing them on labor rights and trade union law, flirt with them. He would call them Comrade, and insist that they call him Comrade back” (62). Read more

The Hong Kong Moment

 

This post continues a conversation I began with this post on Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on the body, the nation, and postcolonial meta-narratives. In an attempt to parse the tensions I feel the in the book–and many others of its era–I continue my thoughts below. 

Many have argued that The God of Small Things is a postcolonial novel about migration; conversely, others have claimed it as a novel primarily concerned with diaspora in the post-colonial age. However, these two understandings miss the novel’s deep discomfort with postcolonialism as 1) intellectual practices/ fields and 2) genres and, by extension, metanarrative. This idea that postcolonialism, as a field and as a set of practices, might have/ has already begun to replicate some of the very same structures it works against is deeply troubling. Those who control the representations of and critical theory behind postcolonialism often invoke subtle structures (unrecognizable to those who use them and therefore, unknowable to those same individuals) that bar entrance to postcolonial bodies simply through the use of the word “postcolonial”. The Donahue scene in The God of Small Things reflects this deep anxiety; indeed, looking at the Donahue scene—and the entire novel itself—we sense a barely concealed turbulence beneath the muted tone of the novel, all centered around postcolonialism as a structure. In order to do this novel—and the plethora of novels that have been born since the nineties—we must somehow move past postcolonialism. How, then, do we think “postcolonialism” outside of postcolonialism? Read more

The Body, The Nation: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things

Only three chapters into the novel, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things offers up a disquieting scene: Baby Kochamma, the grandaunt of the novel’s main protagonists, and her servant, Kochu Maria, sit together in the living room, eating peanuts from the same bowl as part of a “television-enforced democracy” (84). They’ve gathered to watch The Best of Donahue, a spin-off of the popular American talk-show that ran from the late sixties to the mid-nineties and featured Phil Donahue as its host. In this moment, the reader sits outside a double screen: that of the paper (or virtual) pages of the novel and that of the television screen. This double framing gives the reader the flexibility to dismantle what follows.

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