Kai Friese recently reviewed the status of Indian English writing in "The Village Voice", an ezine: http://www.villagevoice.com/vls/172/friese.shtml .
While I enjoyed his breezy, tongue in cheek style of writing, his brazen views on the status of IE writing, I strongly disagree with Friese's assessment of Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things".
I differ with his assertion that Roy had to exoticize India to sell her book. Besides the fact that there is nothing novel about this criticism, I think the strength of the story, its sheer elegance lies in the simplicity of its message.
Underneath the gimmicky language, overdone wordplay, flowery descriptions, lies a poignant and powerful story of the destruction of a child's innocence and how it comes about. Despite the buoyant resilience of childhood, its natural effervescence, its immeasurable capacity to have fun in the bleakest of circumstances, some things cut so deep that their wounds bleed forever, their scars never heal.
What hits powerfully is how vulnerable children are and how easily they can be marked forever by events that lie outside their control. How ill-equipped they are to deal with adult machinations and how incredibly sad it is when they have no other option but to withdraw into a thick cocoon where no one can reach them, no one can hurt them. Their sorrow is unbearable just as their happiness uplifting.
The death of innocence, the deep sorrow of its young protagonists, their utter desolation, all this continues to haunt you until long after you are done with the book. What terrible things children must endure, what inhuman ways childhood must be let go off. That is the story of "The God of Small Things", a story that leaves you restless, perhaps forever. That is the universality of Arundhati Roy's message. Nothing Indian there except the setting. Nothing exotic there at all.