The Inheritance of Loss
By Kiran Desai
(Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780871139290, 336pp.)
Publication Date: November 2005
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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.
1. Discuss the terms globalization and colonialism. What are examples of them in the novel? Discuss them in political and economic terms. How are Noni and Lola stand-ins for the middle class the world over?
If book reviews just cut to the chase, this one would simply read: This is a terrific novel! Read it!” Ann Harleman, The Boston Globe
One of the most impressive novels in English of the past year, and I predict you’ll read it with your heart in your chest, inside the narrative, and the narrative inside you.” Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune
[An] extraordinary new novel lit by a moral intelligence at once fierce and tender.” Pankaj Mishra, front-cover review in The New York Times Book Review
If God is in the details, Ms. Desai has written a holy book. Page after page, from Harlem to the Himalayas, she captures the terror and exhilaration of being alive in the world.” Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan