Arundhati Roy published her first novel, The God of Small Things,in 1997. At the time, Roy’s work concerned political activism, human rights, and environmental issues. Her other works include “The Cost of Living,” “The End of Imagination,” and “The Doctor and The Saint.” Much of Roy’s nonfiction maintains a consistent voice on reoccurring issues, which show the reader that Roy’s first novel is a lot more personal than what’s presented.
The novel’s timeline begins around the 1960s and travels through to the 1990s. Arundhati Roy, an amateur writer at the time, took two big leaps with the structure of her novel. The God of Small Things breaks many conventions in writing and is written in a nonlinear narrative.
The God of Small Things takes place in Ayemenem, a small village in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. The novel follows two-egg twins, Rahel and Estha, the quiet and the empty. The political and social implications Roy covers in this book set barriers for the two-egg twins. Some of the major themes are Western influence and its domination of the Eastern hemisphere, gender roles in new-born communist societies, and what Roy refers to as the “love laws.”
The debate hall of Cambridge University is filled with graduates and undergraduates, with handfuls of people still left outside. James Baldwin, best known at the time for his eloquent essays and literature, such as Go Tell It on the Mountain and Notes of a Native Son, is debating William F. Buckley, an American conservative who laid the groundwork for Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The question up for debate: “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”
James Baldwin left his quotable handbook of statistics at home this day and decided to turn the audience inside out. Baldwin spoke of the destruction of his identity, a collective experience among the black community in the United States. The destruction of his identity, caused by the American population’s refusal to accept the growing racism in the United States, adding decades more to the centuries of oppression.
Baldwin spoke of his experience as something that came from an utter shock, from the realization of his ancestor’s upbringing, to the realization of the color of his skin. He expressed that everything in his world was white, from the sticks and stones, to the faces on television, to the faces down the block — all white. He continues to express his shock, the realization that he himself was not white, since he never looked in the mirror before. He explains, “It comes as a great shock around the age of five, or six, or even seven to discover that Gary Cooper killing off the Indians when you were rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians were you.” Baldwin’s analogy proved his offset. The country in which he was born left no place in society for him; nowhere to evolve, grow, or prosper.
We came all the way from Cuba so you could dress like this? is a collection of six short stories that illustrate the lives of many Latinxs in the gay and lesbian community. Author Achy Obejas digs into the minds of marginalized people to give them their own voice. Their voices are comprised of personal memories, other people’s lives, and some fiction. Obejas provides an important narration for those who rarely get the chance to write, or even get the chance to speak, due to society’s harsh labels.
For instance, “Wrecks,” Obejas’s first short story, falls into the theme of self-destruction and the destructive course we take after a falling out. The first paragraph introduces us to a young woman who is ensuring she purchases the right insurance — that is, it should include Collison, not just liability. It’s humorous, really, she admits to driving recklessly after every breakup, yet she refuses to accept her demise. She gives us a list of her exes and the car crash that went along with each breakup.
First, Loretta, whom she says caused her to drive her car into a tree, making it inoperable. But before that, Doris, who caused her, as she says, to drive into a pole on an icy day in Michigan. All of this is important because she foresees the accident that will be, now that she has broken up with her former-girlfriend, Sandra. The car accidents are not enough for this young woman, as she continues down the road, falling into deeper, more horrific escapades, which include others. This young woman illustrates for the reader a universal perspective of anger and heartbreak, which can lead to a swirling demise either down a lonely, dark, icy highway somewhere off in Michigan, or up Lake Shore Drive on a sunny, well-lit day.
Welcome back to another Meet the Editors post! Today we are introducing Miguel Soto, who is working with us this semester as a Special Sections Editor.
Miguel Soto is currently a junior at Lewis University, majoring in English literature and language. He enjoys reading, binge-watching Netflix, and making music. One of the reasons he decided to major in English literature is because he enjoys reading about various experiences from various timelines.
Miguel’s favorite author (at the moment) is James Baldwin, and he enjoys exploring the genre of magical realism. If he’s not busy with work or school, then you can find Miguel planning his next tattoo.
Below is our Q&A with Miguel:
Who are you and what is your role at Jet Fuel Review?
My name is Miguel Soto, and currently, I’m working on the high school submissions at the Jet Fuel Review. I also sometimes dabble in the Fiction/Non-Fiction areas of the JFR.
What book might we find on your nightstand right now?
The last book I read was If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, but other than that you can find untouched textbooks I bought for the semester on my desk.
If you had the chance to co-write with one author, who would you choose? Why?
I have always wanted to co-write with Isabel Allende. The use of magical realism in her novels is very convincing. Her novels are also similar to the life I remember from several vacations I’ve taken to our family ranch in Mexico.
Describe your perfect reading atmosphere.
The perfect reading atmosphere is outside, in seventy-five-degree weather, with a cool breeze, under the shade, and with a consistent background noise.
What might your personal library look like?
My personal library is neatly organized, and all authors are in alphabetical order. On my bookshelves, you can find anything from the Game of Thrones series to books by James Baldwin, Isabel Allende, Arundhati Roy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and so many others.
If you could “remake” a poorly written movie that was based on a book, what movie would it be?
I would definitely consider re-making The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.
What piece of literature can you reread over and over again?
One piece of literature that I could read over and over again is The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
Give us a quote from your favorite (or any) book/movie.
“It reached out of his head to the rhythm of an ancient, fetal heartbeat. It sent its stealthy, suckered tentacles inching along the insides of his skull, hovering the knolls and dells of his memory, dislodging old sentences, whisking them off the tip of his tongue. It stripped his thoughts of the words that described them and left them pared and naked. Unspeakable. Numb.” – Arundhati Roy from The God of Small Things
If you were invited to have coffee with any fictional character, who would you most like to meet? Why?
Harry Potter, because Hogwarts.
Share your top five favorite pieces of writing (anything included, be it movies, books, etc.). Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
“Death Beyond Constant Love” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Be sure to check back next Friday to meet another new editor. Have a fantastic weekend!