For someone who's not familiar with Indian culture and (semi-shamefully) admits the only other Indian novel they've read is The Ground Beneath Her Feet (which is not even that "Indian"), I declare myself mesmerized. I think Roy captures the exotic essence of India as I have always imagined it (oh, I just remembered - does The Jungle Book count as an Indian book?); a feast of smells - yes, I do wonder how the Untouchables smell!- , colours, sounds and tastes. OK, some passages are a bit too descriptive for my taste (this woman really knows a lot of English adjectives!), but thank God she doesn't do it for too long nor too often.
Most blurbs or recommendations focus on the twins (Estha and Rahel) as central characters; now, if you ask me, they're not. Indeed, the whole story revolves around them, but (kudos to Roy, again) every single character in the novel is so beautifully portrayed and individualised that it can easily be Velutha's (see book's title) or Ammu's story, not the twins' necessarily. Speaking of Velutha and Ammu, I rooted in vain for their forbidden love (how can one not?) just to realize that centuries of customs and discrepancies between castes will never, ever approve of it. As for the twins, the only thing I didn't get was the gap between their childhood and their adulthood, which is filled with only few details that I basically don't see the need for their coming back together just for the sake of it. But there can be, of course, some complicated twin stuff I don't get. (l.e. OK, my bad, it just dawned on me there is indeed a reason for them coming back together again - things remained unsolved when they were separated, it was only later that they fully got what had happened -Everything can change in a day- so I guess they needed closure. Pretty confusing, nonetheless.)
Now, I know it's not fair towards the book, but I think it would be awesome if someone thought of turning it into a film. Seriously, instead of watching crappy stuff like "Slumdog Millionaire", I'd rather plunge into this intricate and haunting drama, though I realize that for a book that starts at the end and finishes in the middle (Roy's words) it would be pretty difficult, but not impossible.