Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"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
"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
"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
"Briskly paced and sumptuously written, the novel ponders questions of nationhood, modernity, and class, in ways both moving and revelatory." New Yorker
"[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
"If book reviews just cut to the chase, this one would simply read: This is a terrific novel! Read it!" The Boston Globe
"The story ricochets between the two worlds, held together by Desai's sharp eyes and even sharper tongue." San Francisco Chronicle
"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
"Shimmering with honesty and humanity....This novel is finely accomplished." Seattle Times
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.
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.
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.