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The Inheritance of Loss: A Novel

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The Inheritance of Loss: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780802142818
ISBN10: 0802142818
Condition: Standard
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Awards

Winner of the 2006 Man Booker Prize
Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle fiction award

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the author of Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard comes a masterpiece set in a corner of the Himalayas where a rising insurgency challenges the old way of life — Kiran Desai's new novel about belonging and estrangement, exile and homecoming, is rich and infinitely wise.

Published to unanimous acclaim in over twenty-two countries, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard announced the arrival of a stunning new voice and was, according to Salman Rushdie, "welcome proof that India's encounter with the English language continues to give birth to new children, endowed with lavish gifts."

Now Kiran Desai takes us to the northeastern Himalayas where 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, who is hopscotching from one miserable New York restaurant to another, trying to stay a step ahead of the INS and forced to consider his country's relationship with the wider 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 journey and role in this grasping world of conflicting desires — every moment holding out the possibility for hope or betrayal.

A story of such depth and emotion, hilarity and imagination, Desai's second, long-awaited novel fulfills the grand promise established by her first.

Review:

"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Kiran Desai's second novel tackles the lingering effects of colonialism on two kinds of South Asian people: those who attempt to leave India and those who remain. Set in 1986 in Kalimpong — a Himalayan town in India's northeastern corner — as well as in New York, the book details the beginning stages of a love affair. Here and there it unleashes some moments of bleak comedy, but the sweet-natured... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Kiran Desai's extraordinary new novel manages to explore...just about every contemporary international issue: globalization, multiculturalism, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist violence. Despite being set in the mid-1980's, it seems the best kind of post-9/11 novel." New York Times

Review:

"This story of exiles at home and abroad...is one of the most impressive novels in English of the past year, and I predict you'll read it almost as Sai read her Bronte, with your heart in your chest, inside the narrative, and the narrative inside you." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Wise, insightful and full of wonderfully compelling and conflicted characters....With its razor insights and emotional scope, The Inheritance of Loss amplifies a developing and formidable voice." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Briskly paced and sumptuously written, the novel ponders questions of nationhood, modernity, and class, in ways both moving and revelatory." New Yorker

Review:

"[T]he final scene treats the heart to one last moment of wild, comic joy — even as it satisfies the head by refusing to relinquish the dark reality that is the life of its characters." Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"If book reviews just cut to the chase, this one would simply read: This is a terrific novel! Read it!" The Boston Globe

Review:

"The story ricochets between the two worlds, held together by Desai's sharp eyes and even sharper tongue." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Ambitious....The book's magic lies in such rich images as an Indian judge wearing a 'silly white wig atop a dark face in the burning heat of summer." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Shimmering with honesty and humanity....This novel is finely accomplished." Seattle Times

Synopsis:

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 judges 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.

Synopsis:

The author of the acclaimed Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard takes readers to the northeastern Himalayas where a rising insurgency in Nepal challenges the old way of life — and opens up a grasping world of conflicting desires.

About the Author

Kiran Desai was born in India in 1971. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. Educated in India, England, and the United States, she received her MFA from Columbia.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

JanB, October 26, 2012 (view all comments by JanB)
I chose this book figuring it had to be good since it won the Man Booker prize and had reviews with glowing words of praise such as "extraordinary","sumptuously written", and "stunning". I was expecting a great read. Wow, what a let down. I could barely get through this book. I was alternately bored, confused, and disinterested, but kept plugging along hoping to finally understand why everyone loved it so much. I still don't know. I agree with one of the previous Powell's reviewers who wrote that "while the author was successful in pointing out the plight of native Indians at the hands of both Westerners and neighboring ethic groups, she fails miserably in making the reader care". I wholeheartedly agree. I didn't care at all what happened to any of the characters. There was no insight into why some of them behaved the way they did and their stories were just depressing. I've read plenty of books that are depressing that I would recommend. I was able to relate to the characters, felt empathy for them, and wanted to spend time with them along their journey. There was also growth, insights, and maybe enlightenment along the way. If there wasn't a happy ending at least there was some time of resolution by the end of the book. This book had none of that. I practically ran to the used bookstore to sell it as soon as I was finished, and I'm a person who keeps most of the books I read. I had no desire for this one to sit among the others in my bookcase.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(5 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
sreedhevi, November 15, 2009 (view all comments by sreedhevi)
I just finished this book, turned it right back and am starting again.

The themes dealt with are eternal and current at the same time. The aspiring nature of emigration, the unknown humiliation waiting overseas. And in the case of Jemubhai Popatlal, his undoing is his clinging on to a colonial life as an internal way of self-acceptance, even if it means staying away from everyone, becoming a tyrant to anyone too 'desi' for his liking. This may be in the 80s, but there are phantom Jemus living in India right now, after having returned from First World cultures.

Desai talks of young love, of holding on to forgotten lifestyles, of the divide between the haves and have nots, and of the unrevealed suffering of those who emigrate, who instead of obtaining the life of their dreams (or in this case, Biju's parent's dreams), become more desolate, more unwanted.

Which brings me to much of the criticism against the novel. Like with many Indian novels in English, it looks like any story told that may, even superficially, highlight anything resembling a negative experience, immediately gets trashed as being 'unfair' and 'inauthentic'. Well, not all Indian literature needs to be literary equivalents of Bollywood movies, with pink happy endings. Those are the salves for those in denial. Words of India booming is the desired buzzword, nobody wants to talk of the shadowy side of globalisation. This is precisely why Desai's picked this subject, and precisely why the book is being shouted down by Indian readers - who wants to see the uncomfortable truth staring at their faces? Isn't it easier to look at the shinier side?

It is a hard truth, the pain of dislocation. Not an optional lifestyle, but a gut-wrenching reality. Desai's subtext might well be - "lest we forget".
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(9 of 15 readers found this comment helpful)
lmoore07, July 6, 2007 (view all comments by lmoore07)
Desai does a beautiful job of weaving stories of India, the immigrant's experience, a troubling legacy of colonialism and the challenges of assimilation. She shows the presence of a third world within the first world (U.S.), while exploring the subtleties of status, class and nationality. Not only a touching story, but also a timely and critical inquiry into our increasingly interconnected world.
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(28 of 59 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 6 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802142818
Author:
Desai, Kiran
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Grandfathers
Subject:
Teenage girls
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Publication Date:
September 2006
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 12 oz

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The Inheritance of Loss: A Novel Used Trade Paper
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Product details 384 pages Grove Press - English 9780802142818 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Kiran Desai's extraordinary new novel manages to explore...just about every contemporary international issue: globalization, multiculturalism, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist violence. Despite being set in the mid-1980's, it seems the best kind of post-9/11 novel."
"Review" by , "This story of exiles at home and abroad...is one of the most impressive novels in English of the past year, and I predict you'll read it almost as Sai read her Bronte, with your heart in your chest, inside the narrative, and the narrative inside you."
"Review" by , "Wise, insightful and full of wonderfully compelling and conflicted characters....With its razor insights and emotional scope, The Inheritance of Loss amplifies a developing and formidable voice."
"Review" by , "Briskly paced and sumptuously written, the novel ponders questions of nationhood, modernity, and class, in ways both moving and revelatory."
"Review" by , "[T]he final scene treats the heart to one last moment of wild, comic joy — even as it satisfies the head by refusing to relinquish the dark reality that is the life of its characters."
"Review" by , "If book reviews just cut to the chase, this one would simply read: This is a terrific novel! Read it!"
"Review" by , "The story ricochets between the two worlds, held together by Desai's sharp eyes and even sharper tongue."
"Review" by , "Ambitious....The book's magic lies in such rich images as an Indian judge wearing a 'silly white wig atop a dark face in the burning heat of summer."
"Review" by , "Shimmering with honesty and humanity....This novel is finely accomplished."
"Synopsis" by , 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 judges 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.
"Synopsis" by , The author of the acclaimed Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard takes readers to the northeastern Himalayas where a rising insurgency in Nepal challenges the old way of life — and opens up a grasping world of conflicting desires.
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