The God of Small Things revolves around Estha and Rahel's family. We learn about their roots through a series of brief flashbacks, all the way back down the line to the lives of their great-grandparents. The central conflict of the story rests on the death of their cousin, Sophie Mol. What makes this story not just a drama but a family drama is the way the novel explores the effects of Sophie's death specifically on the lives of each member of the family. It pays close attention to the way the family unravels in reaction to the event.
What characterizes The God of Small Things as a work of literary fiction in addition to a family drama is the complex way the novel unfolds through its focus on the characters. We delve right into the psyches of a number of the characters, and Roy creates a unique perspective for each. Literary fiction tends to focus on style and characterization, and it's hard to find many works that exemplify that as beautifully as The God of Small Things.