The Inheritance of Loss is Kiran Desai's extraordinary Man Booker Prize winning novel. High in the Himalayas sits a dilapidated mansion, home to three people, each dreaming of another time. The judge, broken by a world too messy for justice, is haunted by his past. His orphan granddaughter has fallen in love with her handsome tutor, despite their ...
The Inheritance of Loss is Kiran Desai's extraordinary Man Booker Prize winning novel. High in the Himalayas sits a dilapidated mansion, home to three people, each dreaming of another time. The judge, broken by a world too messy for justice, is haunted by his past. His orphan granddaughter has fallen in love with her handsome tutor, despite their different backgrounds and ideals. The cook's heart is with his son, who is working in a New York restaurant, mingling with an underclass from all over the globe as he seeks somewhere to call home. Around the house swirl the forces of revolution and change. Civil unrest is making itself felt, stirring up inner conflicts as powerful as those dividing the community, pitting the past against the present, nationalism against love, a small place against the troubles of a big world. "A Magnificent novel of humane breadth and wisdom, comic tenderness and political acuteness." (Hermione Lee, chair of the Man Booker Prize judges). "Poised, elegant and assured...breaks out into extraordinary beauty." (The Times). "Desai's bold, original voice, and her ability to deal in a grand narratives with a deft comic touch that affectionately recalls some of the masters of Indian fiction, makes hers a novel to reread and remembered." (Independent). Kiran Desai was born in India in 1971, was educated in India, England and the United States, and now lives in New York. She is the author of Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, which was published to unanimous acclaim in over twenty-two countries, and The Inheritance of Loss, which won the Man Book Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.
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I read this book as a selection with my literature group. Many found it was "an important book," but it was difficult for me to read around the utter despair that permeates everything. Perhaps I identify too much with a book's characters, and while this book was beautifully written, it also seemed a bit overwrought and over-thought. After I found out the author had whittled it down from 1800 pages, these feelings were easier to understand. Is India really such a joyless place? I doubt it, although I imagine living there is complex and difficult. These characters are so sad and dispirited, often without direction or inclination. I wonder why Desai found it important to write about them? I can't say I would recommend this book, although I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it, either. Have something light-hearted on the table, though, for balance...
Aug 23, 2007
you can go home again but it won't be the same
A moving andd unusual book about Northern India, the hopes of immigrants, the ties of tradition, the plans of parents for their children and the difficulty of any actual positive change in our world. Tough protrayals of immigrant life in the US set off against class differences in India. And the difficulties of going back and forth. A good read!
Jun 7, 2007
The Real India
A well-written and informative book about the real, rural India. Not a very happy or encouraging book about conditions in India and its inhabitants, but an eye-opener about the destitution and lack of civility in the outer regions of the country.
Jun 1, 2007
Excellent, thought provoking read...
I recently read this book for my book club and thought it was very good. The writer is a master with language; the words were like prose. She was able to weave a myriad of social and political commentary into a story about people and their relationships. I would recommend this book to others, especially, if you are someone who enjoys a thought-provoking book that at once seems incredibly simple and yet amazingly complex. I can?t wait for our book club discussion!
Apr 3, 2007
The reality of loss
Being someone who hails from India's North-east,but still has to pay a price,off and on,for the whims and fancies of the so called " son of the soil " politics of the North-east,Kiran Deasi has, with remarkable sophistication touched the mood of Gorkhaland agitation in her book.To me, 'The Inheritance of Loss' was much more than Sai's loss of her first innocent love in Gyan to the Gorkhaland agitation,but that,she was unfortunate enough to have inherited that loss of belonging from the beginning.Biju's exploits in the US,although funny in a very sad way,reminded me of how my forefathers,very conveniently called "refugees"must have felt and experienced when they first came from erstwhile East Pakistan to India. I believe, many people of my generation,would like to think that we have had inherited the profoundest loss when the British divided my father's home in a sleepy village,not so long ago,by drawing two maps -when no one really needed them. I really thought about "loss" after reading this book and therein lies its truimph.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-10-24 This stunning second novel from Desai (Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard) is set in mid-1980s India, on the cusp of the Nepalese movement for an independent state. Jemubhai Popatlal, a retired Cambridge-educated judge, lives in Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, with his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook. The makeshift family's neighbors include a coterie of Anglophiles who might be savvy readers of V.S. Naipaul but who are, perhaps, less aware of how fragile their own social standing is-at least until a surge of unrest disturbs the region. Jemubhai, with his hunting rifles and English biscuits, becomes an obvious target. Besides threatening their very lives, the revolution also stymies the fledgling romance between 16-year-old Sai and her Nepalese tutor, Gyan. The cook's son, Biju, meanwhile, lives miserably as an illegal alien in New York. All of these characters struggle with their cultural identity and the forces of modernization while trying to maintain their emotional connection to one another. In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a "better life," when one person's wealth means another's poverty. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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