I read her every year. And every year I find something new.
The first year, it was wonder at the narrative structure. Everything made sense, even though it all seemed to be written in a jumble, a complicated string of present-past-future-past-future. Yet, I came out of the book with a complete story woven in my head.
This year, I noticed the post-colonial threads as never before. Maybe it’s because I’m living in a culture where whiteness is beautiful and blackness is ugly, where mothers smear cream on their toddlers’ faces every night to bleach their skin a little whiter. The idolization of The West, of England and America, came through to me very clearly. The way the children love The Sound of Music, the way it resonates with them and yet makes them feel wrong, unloved. Sophie Mol, loved from the beginning, an odd clash of cultures. The Communists, using dogma imported through China via Russia via England to build a “new world,” one where they are still bound by the ancient laws of caste and creed.
Roy crafts a world in these pages, and then she tears it apart. The world of a family, of four people who love each other, of people who are incapable of anything beyond self-love, and of people who are merely History’s Agents.