Earlier this month, by recommendation of Julieta (still the best writer I know in real life), I read Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things.

I’m a pretty typical Gen-Z kid: I read a lot when I was a kid, but since middle school I’ve been reduced to about four “serious” novels a year. My reading list is like an aborted, half-assed version of the Pulitzer Prize list: a few Colson Whitehead novels, The Sympathizer (a Christmas gift to me from Annabel), some Junot Diaz. Beloved. A long time ago, The Road. Things Fall Apart. A couple scattered titles: Kintu, every single of Game of Thrones book though I think they’re terrible. The Iliad at some point.

I can appreciate that a lot of these books are fantastic. Some of them were sucker-punches or eye-openers or other hyphenated verbs. Most books, even exceptionally good ones, have a certain type of feeling to me—well constructed, very, very well written, important themes, deep emotions, but reading it is like passing time. It’s consuming something, and then putting it away. I don’t know that I’m describing this correctly.

The God of Small Things is, of course, something else entirely.

The God of Small Things doesn’t pass time. The God of Small Things is falling in love. That’s how to say it, I think. I actually made a playlist to describe it—“my heart curled like an oak.” You know how a tree when it’s still growing can be bent and coerced into strange curling shapes? But once the wood or bark is set, it’s basically immovable. The God of Small Things curled my heart into a new shape, and now it will always look different than it did before. I was dazzled, humbled, and shown what writing can really do to you. I know I’m waxing poetic but it really is how I feel. Just thinking about the book makes me want to cry.

The story, how the chronology is handled, the way imagery, beautiful but at first casually handled, is built into symbols and motifs—Roy is submerging you into another universe entirely, where words and phrases have new meanings. It’s like in reading you learn to speak a language that only you and her and the characters understand. It’s an induction to another system of comprehension, another way of seeing the whole world. A world filled with uncountable moles and English ghosts pinned to trees and greygreen and moths and the broken yellow moon and red, tender-mango-shaped secrets. A brown leaf that make the monsoons come on time. All these small things will come to hold so much meaning because Roy is just that brilliant. And she’s outrageously funny—except the humor is all subtle and witty and clever and ironic and unexpected—and her commentary is incisive and cynical and true yet suffused in care at the same time. You feel the rage, the heartbreak, the tragedy, the wonder. As Julieta described it—it’s devastating.

I could quote entire paragraphs from this book now the writing is so wonderful, but then I’d be sitting here all day and it’s almost midnight on a Sunday and I’ve supposedly got things to do.

And besides–I don’t want to spoil any of the words, if that makes this sense. This book has to be read for the first time.