The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss

Book - 2006
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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.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, c2006
Edition: 1st Grove Press ed
ISBN: 9780802142818
Branch Call Number: PS3554.E82 I54 2006bx
Desai, K
Characteristics: 357, [6] p. ; 21 cm


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Nepal and India in the 1980's

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Sep 26, 2020

I guess this is supposed to be about dealing with the inability to respond to post-colonial conditions and the continuing divisions in India. But the characters are all pretty uninteresting, including the young folks.

Feb 15, 2020

Takes place at the foot of Mount Kanchengua in the Himalayas. It’s about a judge, Jemubhai Patel, his orphaned granddaughter granddaughter, Sai, his cook, and the cook’s son, Bijou. Bijou lives inNYC and works at one dumpy restaurant to another depending on INS raids. The novelis set during an Indian-Nepali insurgency. Sai has a romantic relationship with her tutor, Gyan gets involved with the revolution and he and Sai become estranged until the end of the book. 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. The novel shows the internal conflicts in India between groups, whilst showing a conflict between past and present. There is the rejection and yet awe of the English way of life, the opportunities for money in the US, and the squalor of living in India. Many leading Indians were considered to be becoming too English and having forgotten the traditional ways of Indian life, shown through the character of the grandfather, the retired Judge.
The major theme running throughout is one closely related to colonialism and the effects of post-colonialism: the loss of identity and the way it travels through generations as a sense of loss. Individuals within the text show snobbery at those who embody the Indian way of life and vice versa, with characters displaying an anger at the English Indians who have lost their traditions.
The Gorkhaland movement is used as a historic backdrop of the novel.
The retired judge Jemubhai Patel is a man disgusted at Indian ways and customs, so much so, that he eats chapatis with a knife and fork, hates all Indians including his father whom he breaks ties with and wife who he abandons at his father's place after torturing her, and is never accepted by the British in spite of his education and adopted mannerisms.

Aug 29, 2019

So disappointed... Such an amazing writing and a macabre plot with no hope in sight. Blech :) Filled with anger, misery and hatred. The unending drama has traumatized me. I would hope a writer has an obligation to his/her readers... to educate, to entertain, to enlighten, to help to find beauty and hope, etc. As a reader, I trust a writer to take care of me and my mental state. It's seems so easy and cheap just to pour gruesomeness - it always resonate and pages turn. Dear writers! Please write books that are deep, truthful, hopeful, and most of all bring light! :)

Sep 24, 2018

"Very unskilled at drawing borders, those bloody Brits." Reviewers who find this boring, depressing, too complex (That's a bad thing?), uneven, or lacking in an ending clearly know more than the Booker committee and the National Book Critics. And this is nowhere near stream of consciousness, as one reader ineptly points out. I found this a compelling, sweeping, and moving story that weaves together several storylines and moves back and forth between New York and a village in the Himalayas. Second novel from Kiran Desai, whose mother, Anita Desai, is also an acclaimed novelist.

Dec 20, 2017

I enjoyed parts of this novel, divided into two narratives - the granddaughter of a judge in the Himalayas and the son of their cook in New York City. It is set during the time of Nepali nationalism and anarchy in northern India. However, it is a little uneven and too long. It somewhat peters out at the end.

Nov 16, 2017

I completely agree with this comment, "I found it a little depressing, and a little boring. The ending.....well......what ending!"

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 26, 2014

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.

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.

Sep 11, 2012

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

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.

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