The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy
We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)
(5) Tree Line
We're not going to lie – there's a lot going on in this book, and very little of it is directly to the point. There's a lot of unfamiliar material to process. For example, we didn't really know anything about Marxists in India before reading this book, did you? On top of all of that, the narrative doesn't just shift from one point of view to another; it also swoops back and forth in time. We get the story out of order and are left to piece it together just as we're figuring out what's going on. Seriously, we know the ending before we even meet half the characters!
That said, this is the kind of book you aren't going to want to put down. You don't need to know all the ins and outs of the Indian caste system, what Anglophilia is, or the political atmosphere in 1969 to be able to identify with the characters and figure out what these things mean to them. (If you're interested, though, check out the "Setting" section!)