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GOST make it big by belittling Marxism - The Indian Express

United News of India ()
31 October 1997

Title: 'GOST make it big by belittling Marxism'
Author: United News of India
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: October 31, 1997

Kerala Chief Minister E K Nayanar has said that it is perhaps due to its
"anti-Communist venom" and its caricature of Communist leaders of Kerala
that Arundhati Roy's maiden novel The God of Small Thing won the Booker
prize and came in for acclaim from the western world.

Making a review of the novel in his weekly column Munnottu (forward) in the
Marxist daily deshabhimani, Nayanar took strong exception to the way in
which the novelist handled the Communist movement in the State and its
leaders like E M S Namboodiripad. "If the novel had come out with such
references to the leader of any other political party, it is certain that
the distribution of the book would have got ensnared in legal tangle," he

Referring to the overenthusiastic expression of happiness in certain
quarters over a Malayali girl winning the prize, he said that perhaps the
unreal picture of Kerala the novel portrayed and the belittling of leaders
of its revolutionary movement might have contributed to this excitement.

Nayanar, also a stalwart of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said
the prize had been instituted by a British multinational company that had
interests in distribution of food products, including fish. It was for a
book in English which the British considered as good from among works by
writers of countries that once were subjugated by Britain, he added.

While the novel had won acclaim from western media, Nayanar pointed out
that there were some critics who found that it was not all that great. He
recalled that the head of the Booker selection panel last year had likened
the novel to sweet pie made with a surfeit of sugar. He said, a member of
previous year's Booker panel found the book obscene and dirty. Some had
criticised the novelist of aping the style of certain American novelists,
he added.

He said there was a view that the marketing strategy employed by Harper and
Collins which bought the publishing rights of this book might have paved
the way for the novel winning the prize.

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

It was because of this that he had issued a one-line statement of
congratulations to Arundhati the day the announcement of the prize was
made, though there was criticism that the book contained some wrong
assessments about the social changes in the State and those at the vanguard
of such changes.

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

Without realising that EMS was born in a feudal family of immense wealth
was now living in a rented house in Thiruvananthapuram, he said R Arundhati
had heaped such ridicule in the novel on the Marxist veteran. Slandering
EMS was to blacken the Communist movement and a strategy to boost the sales
in the West, he added.

For instance, a Communist in the novel, Pillai was portrayed in a manner
inviting the loathing of the readers. Carpenter Velutha, a Communist, is a
genial and affectionate person but is sought to be destroyed by the
Communist party. The novel also contains a sexual encounter between Velutha
and Ammu, a woman of the Ayemanem Tharavad, he pointed out.

He said the author had joined the company of 1971 Booker prize winner V S
Naipaul who had painted a grotesque picture of India.

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