But the nonlinear structure was addressed when Rahel, the narrator, steps into the temple to watch the Kathakali Man dance. "It didn't matter that the story had begun, because kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don't deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don't surprise you with the unforeseen."
Back to Arundhati Roy: "In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love,who doesn't And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic." Yes.
I was also moved by the description and plight of the Kathakali Man, who is "the most beautiful of men. Because his body is his soul. His only instrument." He is trained in his art since childhood, knows what he will grow up to be, is very skilled, and cannot be or do anything else, even though the times are changing, and his art is no longer respected in the way it was before, not even by his children, who are wrapped up in lives of commerce, not art. "But he himself, left dangling somewhere between heaven and earth, cannot do what they do." He is part of a particular time and place--Kerala, India in decades of great change, late 1960s to early 1990s--and part of History with a capital "H," which, in the story, powerfully disrupts the lives of individuals.
But he also shows us the plight of the consummate artist, "dangling somewhere between heaven and earth," unable to do anything else, whose "body is [his/her] soul." Ah, but don't the great spiritual teachers tell us the same thing?