The Inheritance of Loss

Desai, Kiran

Book - 2006
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Inheritance of Loss
Kiran Desai's first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard , was published to unanimous acclaim in over twenty-two countries. Now Desai takes us to the northeastern Himalayas where a rising insurgency challenges the old way of life. In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga lives an embittered old judge who wants to retire in peace when his orphaned granddaughter Sai arrives on his doorstep. The judge's chatty cook watches over her, but his thoughts are mostly with his son, Biju, hopscotching from one New York restaurant job to another, trying to stay a step ahead of the INS, forced to consider his country's place in the world. When a Nepalese insurgency in the mountains threatens Sai's new-sprung romance with her handsome Nepali tutor and causes their lives to descend into chaos, they, too, are forced to confront their colliding interests. The nation fights itself. The cook witnesses the hierarchy being overturned and discarded. The judge must revisit his past, his own role in this grasping world of conflicting desires-every moment holding out the possibility for hope or betrayal. A novel of depth and emotion, Desai's second, long-awaited novel fulfills the grand promise established by her first.

Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0871139294
Branch Call Number: FICTION DESAI
Characteristics: 324 p. ;,24 cm


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Oct 26, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

In Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, a region disputed by India and Nepal, a retired Cambridge-educated judge, his orphaned grand-daughter, and his cook struggle with their cultural identity, modernization, and the ambiguities of post-colonialism. The winner of the 2006 Man Booker Prize, this novel comes highly recommended.

Aug 14, 2013
  • DanglingConversations rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

If you like a complex plot line, overwhelming social injustice and individual hubris and stupidity then read this book. Tolstoy it is not. The author does not respect her readers, it feels like 1,000 pages of stream of consciousness writing bouncing between USA and India. This book was a challenge to my powers of concentration.

Oct 13, 2012
  • erinsnest rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

Started September 11, 2012 Finished October 4, 2012 (also read the 3 Prison Diaries by Jeffrey Archer in this time).......This book really didn't do a thing for me. (my sister either) I found it a little depressing, and a little boring. The ending.....well......what ending!

Jul 24, 2012
  • ganymede__ rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Both heavy and light at times, this book shows layer upon layer of life, loss, love, ambition, escape, denial, hatred, and almost every other emotion you can think of.

May 23, 2011
  • brianreynolds rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I was caught up in both the amazing prose and the intriguing intertwining stories: the Sisyphean struggle of love and comfort against culture and politics, the struggle for cultural identity and survival on a shrinking planet.

The title seemed almost a contradiction. But culture is truly our first and perhaps most precious inheritance, poignantly so in an age where the idea of "culture" itself, it could be argued, is on the verge of extinction. Cultures thrive in isolation. In a world that depends on immigration, illegal immigration, and displaced populations, "culture" becomes the villain in romance, the obstacle to success, the instigator of tragedy or, in this case, irony.

Kiran Desai makes the reader laugh and cry almost with the same sentence. The foibles of a retired judge, his granddaughter, his cook, and the cook's son are more than character flaws revealed in the turmoil of an insurgency. They are the inevitable cultural baggage we carry to our own detriment in our relations with others and our consolation when we oh so cautiously peer into the mirror.

Inheritance takes some effort especially on the part of the non-Indian/ non-Nepalese reader; Desai is not a connector of all the dots, but the reward for reading her is huge for anyone interested in the human condition, the human heart.

Jan 31, 2011
  • GummiGirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A beautifully written novel that got me thinking about the long-term effects of colonialism.

Dec 11, 2010
  • GrumpyDave rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

2006 Man Booker Prize

Sep 10, 2010
  • Mualla rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Very interesting book. Full of colourful characters: One being a young girl who falls in love with her tutor who has some involvement with local uprising; a grandfather who did his higher education in England when he was young ; and a young man who tries to survive as a dishwasher/cook in New York city without work permit.

Jul 19, 2010
  • Ajena rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Story grinds to a halt. Not sure I like any of the characters.


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