I m not going to say that this novel is bad Chorus of GR friends Say it, go on, you know you want to but it was pretty ghastly for me It was strangled to death by a style you could describe as inane wittering, a crew of characters all of which are loveably eccentric and a plot that Ms Desai believes will take care of itself as the inane wittering puthers all over the loveable eccentrics.So, to sum upBAH In A Crumbling, Isolated House At The Foot Of Mount Kanchenjunga In The Himalayas Lives An Embittered Judge Who Wants Only To Retire In Peace, When His Orphaned Granddaughter, Sai, Arrives On His Doorstep The Judge S Cook Watches Over Her Distractedly, For His Thoughts Are Often On His Son, Biju, Who Is Hopscotching From One Gritty New York Restaurant To Another Kiran Desai S Brilliant Novel, Published To Huge Acclaim, Is A Story Of Joy And Despair Her Characters Face Numerous Choices That Majestically Illuminate The Consequences Of Colonialism As It Collides With The Modern World The Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai is a magnificent, impressive novel that ultimately is disappointing As a process, the book is almost stunningly good As a product, it falls short.The book s language, scenarios and juxtapositions are funny, threatening, vivid and tender all at the same time The comic element, always riven through with irony, is most often to the fore, as characters grapple with a world much bigger than themselves, a world that only ever seems to admit them partially, and rarely on their own terms The one criticism I have of the style is Kiran Desai s propensity to offer up lists as comic devices, a technique that works a couple of times, but later has the reader scanning forward to the next substance.An aged judge lives in the highlands of north India As political and ethnic tensions stretch through the mountain air, he reconsiders his origins, his education, his career, his opportunities, both taken and missed He has a granddaughter, orphaned in most unlikely circumstances, as her parents trained for a Russian space programme But what circumstances that create orphans are ever likely She is growing up, accompanied by most of what that entails.The cook in the rickety mansion is the person that really runs the household, his rule of thumb methods predating the appliances he has to use and the services he has to provide He manages, imaginatively He has a son, Biju, who eventually forms the centrepiece of the book s complex, somewhat rambling story Biju has emigrated to New York, where he has made it big, at least as far as the folks back home think On site, he slaves away in the dungeon kitchens of fast food outlets, restaurants, both up and downmarket, and a few plain eateries Kiran Desai provides the reader with a superb image of globalisation when she describes the customer receiving areas of an upmarket restaurant flying an advertised, authentic French flag, while in the kitchen the flags are Indian, Honduran, anything but French Now there is true authenticity for you, offered up in its manufactured, globalised form.Biju, of course, dreams of home, but the comparatively large number of US dollars he earns at least as far as the folks back home see it barely covers essentials in someone else s reality.The narrative of The Inheritance Of Loss flits between New York, northern India and elsewhere, and also between the here and now, yesteryear and the judge s childhood And perhaps it flits too much, because the scenes are often cut short before the reader feels they have made a point.And ultimately this reader found that the book lacked focus While the process was enjoyable, the product was not worth the journey The Inheritance Of Loss seemed to promise to take us somewhere in this globalised confusion of identity, motive, routine, unrealised dreams and intangible desires, but eventually it seemed to have nothing to add to a sense of well that s how it is , which is precisely where we started There was an opportunity for , but it was ducked.The book was thus a thoroughly enjoyable read that threatened to achieve greatness through statement, but unfortunately missed the mark, and by a long way. When I finally met Salman Rushdie within seconds we got to talking about this book Like Moshin Hamid s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Inheritance tackles radical territory, radical than you might think Both novels break from the traditional immigrant novel by having the main character break from the country of adoption and return to the country of origin Sure the act is nothing new, but the post 9 11 instability is This is a lot striking than you might think the basic concept of the immigrant novel, from Amy Tan to Rushdie was co existence, a belief in the ultimate greatness of mongrel culture the character finding some way to come to terms and perhaps even thrive in the country of adoption In Inheritance, two generations of immigrant return and both experience the fundamental instability that comes from divorcing where you re from, but never fitting in with where you re at. There is a tendency to assume that anything that has won the Booker prize must be problematic, however I found this winner to actually pretty good The novel moves points of view and location regularly It shifts between the foothills of the Himalayas near Kalimpong set in 1986 with the Gorkhaland movement as a backdrop and New York and periodically goes back to the pre war colonial period The main characters centre on the household of Jemubhai a retired judge, Sai his granddaughter , the cook, Mutt the dog and Gyan Sai s tutor who visits periodically In New York is Biju, the cook s son who is scraping a living working illegally in New York restaurants There is also a cast of eccentric characters in the household s social circle The novel also moves back to the judge s past and his time in England studying law, his marriage and his gradual disillusionment Colonialism and post colonialism feature as themes as does identity and its loss and this inheritance moving through generations The novel is split into short chapters and each chapter into brief fragments which move the narrative along quickly, often between comedy and tragedy This is a funny book and there are some hilarious moments, often juxtaposed with moments of real pathos and tragedy There is also a sense of decay and regret and an illumination of human cupidity and delusion delineated with care and concern An elderly character, Lola, pontificates about Naipaul s A Bend in the River I think he s strange Stuck in the past He has not progressed Colonial neurosis, he s never freed himself from it It is an ironic and telling comment Desai says that her novel tries to capture what it means to live between East and West and what it means to be an immigrant and goes on to say that it also explores at a deeper level, what happens when a Western element is introduced into a country that is not of the West Desai also asks What happens when you take people from a poor country and place them in a wealthy one How does the imbalance between these two worlds change a person s thinking and feeling How do these changes manifest themselves in a personal sphere, a political sphere, over time Desai s genius is to explore all these themes within the context of a very human and poignant story The novel tells a compact family tale in broad scope raising issues and difficulties facing the inheritors of colonial domination Sai s feelings give a sense of the inheritance Never again could she think there was but one narrative and that this narrative belonged only to herself, that she might create her own tiny happiness and live safely within it Easy to read and deceptively deep this is a good novel with much to recommend it. The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran DesaiThe Inheritance of Loss is the second novel by Indian author Kiran Desai It was first published in 2006 It won a number of awards, including the Man Booker Prize for that year, the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award in 2007, and the 2006 Vodafone Crossword Book Award The story is centered on two main characters Biju and Sai Biju is an undocumented Indian immigrant living in the United States, son of a cook who works for Sai s grandfather Sai is a girl living in mountainous Kalimpong with her maternal grandfather Jemubhai, the cook and a dog named Mutt Desai switches the narration between both points of view The action of the novel takes place in 1986 The novel follows the journey of Biju, an undocumented immigrant in the US who is trying to make a new life and Sai, an Anglicised Indian girl living with her grandfather in India 2008 1386 515 21 1391 438 9789643741129 1389 500 9789648148336 1393 644 9786002960573 2006 While the writing was lovely and the theme of the conflicting Indian identities in post colonial India and in the United States was really interesting and supported with well developed characters but I just couldn t get into it and found it like pulling teeth to get through. i have only read half of this book, so perhaps i shouldn t rate it but i want to warn other people away from it the author is obviously an intelligent writer, and she has a real mastery of language much of the writing is somberly poetic but perhaps she pays too much attention to detail the story is slow i read up to the part where the judge returns from england and rapes his wife after she steals his powder puff, and i threw the book down in disgust it s not just what happens, but how the author writes the rape scene really made my skin crawl her description was vulgar i m crossing my legs and curling up into a ball just thinking about it.most of the characters are selfish and cynical, if not downright mean the ones who aren t get treated badly the environment is moldy and decaying i felt like taking a shower after reading passages from this book.other reviewers said that the glorious and brilliant thing about this book is the mood the author creates if you want to read a book with mood, then go for it she is a genius at creating the most depressing mood you can imagine. I am very interested in reading books on India since I read Yann Martel s Life of Pi This novel gave me an idea about life of Indians although I already studied it in our high school History I became interested when I read A White Tiger by Aravind Adiga from which I learned the real face of social system in India, that people in the lower class get through miserable and sordid life This fact opened my mind then Probably, the novel that has had a significant impact upon me so far is Rohinton Mistry s A Fine Balance, a wonderful book I will definitely recommend to someone asking for what book they should read Thereby, I always look for the other novels which have something to do with India since there are some included on 1001 Best Novels of All Time.All the above mentioned books have complete resemblance their themes are all about poverty So when I saw this novel in a book store, I grabbed it because I have now the conception that Indian novels have something to do with India On the other hand, Kiran Desai s has the same hallmark but not as heart breaking and compelling as Rohinton Mistry s The way she wrote it is completely different from the other contemporary writers.This novel won the Man Booker Prize in 2006 and National Circle Award in the same year As a reader, do not underestimate why this is deserving of the said awards In fact , the novel is not much of a good read beyond my taste however, objectively speaking, I agree with another famous Indian writer, Salman Rusdie, that Keran Desia is a terrific writer.First Desai s writing style reminds me of Black American writers novels for example, the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison When you read the novel, you can assimilate the story into two interpretive ways either literally or figuratively In other words, The Inheritance of Loss is steeped in latent implications, some kind of esoteric reading Every sentence appears to be so deceiving that I don t think you cannot get at what Desai wants to imply figuratively As a clich puts, Read between the lines So, could you have this knack of writing skill Dear me you might beat your head against the wall thinking about the best and most beautiful fragments you could fabricate as long as 7 years as Desai took time to finsih it.Second The novel is what the social world must know Its themes deal with the social issues nowadays even since before, not only applicable to India and Nepal but also to every nation in the world which must have the same conditions specifically such as a American dream also exists in India The western culture influences the psyches of Indians Consequently, due to the extreme poverty probably brought about by big population, corruption, and ridiculous so called Caste System, most Indians are so hapless that they dream of venturing out to the USA In reality, their life turns out to be miserable than what they expect to be b The effects of Imperialism and colonial mentality upon the social system raise awareness among chauvinists and jingoists In fact, in the novel, Sai s retired judge grandpa shows an air of aristocracy and I am better than you attitude upon his arrival in India after long studies and services under the British government Such social situation also exists in the Philippines c Secessionism A political situation that loses the real identity of a nation.The novel also deals with feeling of emptiness, the atmospheric feeling I felt from the beginning to the end Could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss Romantically she decided that love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment Love was the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself All the rage in the story is the miscegenation between Sai Mistry and Gyan I found their mutual understanding ridiculous, but their relationship could be symbolic , for Sai is Indian and Gyan Nepalese.On the other hand, the only thing that impedes my interest is the Indian words and dialogues with which I am not familiar and beyond my understanding But I believe this is the essence of writing such book it only reflects the nationalistic observation of Kiran Desia.Besides, I cannot brush the idea that this novel was as though each story in each chapter had just been patched together as Desai s successful breakthrough after seven years of writing it Still, it is a tour de force Congratulations Ms Kiran Desai I envy your febrile imagination Prior to this , Desai was already popular among literary critics for her Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard , which I will read as soon as I buy it Rating 5 5 stars It was an awful thing, the downing of a proud man He might kill the witness. I was in the midst of my pre reviewing laze that consists of gathering up thoughts and quotes and semi but not really pigeonholing various things when without warning the word satire reared its head It s not a word I get along with, what with its all too frequent usage as a blockade, a safety blanket, a but it s a satire so I can say anything I want that guarantees neither quality nor even simple entertainment, but if there s one example that I ll accept with nary a quibble, it s Swift s A Modest Proposal It s a piece that makes you laugh while questioning while you re laughing because you are also crying but not nearly as much as you should be while also recognizing the logic that is only the extension of a present day condition that seems practical and common sensical until it isn t because now you re view spoiler eating human babies hide spoiler
Anita Desai.Desai s first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard 1998 , gained accolades from notable figures including Salman Rushdie, and went on to receive the Betty Trask Award Her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss 2006 , won the 2006 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award.
- 357 pages
- The Inheritance of Loss
- Kiran Desai
- 16 March 2018 Kiran Desai