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Nayanar pours scorn on God of Small Things

Had it not been for its 'anti-Communist venom', had it not been for its caricature of Kerala Communist leaders, Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things would not have borne the big Booker fruit.

The opinion, folks, is not the writer's -- it strictly belongs to Kerala's Communist Chief Minister E K Nayanar who, the other day, thought it quite fit to pour scorn all over Roy and her Small Things.

Nayanar puts forth his criticism through his weekly column Munnottu (forward) in the Marxist daily Deshabhimani.

Writes Nayanar, who took strong opposition to the way the lady handled veteran leader E M S Namboodiripad and the Communist movement in Kerala: "If the novel had come out with such references to any other political party, it is certain its distribution would have been ensnared in legal tangles."

While the novel had won acclaim from the Western media, Nayanar pointed out that there were some critics who found it was not all that great. He recalled last year's head of the Booker selection panel likening it to sweet pie made with a surfeit of sugar. Another ex-member of the panel had found it terribly 'obscene and dirty'.

"Some had criticised the novelist of aping the style of certain American novelists," the chief minister added.

He said it was the marketing strategy employed by Harper and Collins which paved Roy's way to the Booker.

Namboodiripad, according to Nayanar, had been been misrepresented in the novel to the extent of saying that his ancestral home had been converted into a hotel where semi-clad foreign tourists drink and engage in betting. Worse, the hotel staff explains to tourists that this was the ancestral home of EMS, known as Kerala Mao Tse Tung!

Arundhati's depiction of EMS's ancestral home as a hotel and of former Communists as hotel boys was intended to portray that Communism has been commercialised, he said.

"Keralites," Nayanar said, "are happy that a Malayali girl, especially the daughter of Mary Roy who fought for women's rights, had won a world prize for literature."

But debasing Communism -- and EMS -- was not at all a good thing to do, Nayanar held.


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