Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Inheritance of Loss” as Want to Read:
The Inheritance of Loss
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Inheritance of Loss

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  31,211 ratings  ·  2,828 reviews
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 De ...more
Paperback, 357 pages
Published 2005 by Grove Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Inheritance of Loss, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Inheritance of Loss

Life of Pi by Yann MartelThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Remains of the Day by Kazuo IshiguroMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Booker Prize Winners
14th out of 49 books — 1,324 voters
The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best Indian Books
12th out of 540 books — 1,555 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 04, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: Man Booker Prize 2006, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2004-2010)
So far, this is the Man Booker Prize winner that is most relevant to me as an Asian. Most countries in Asia were once colonies of European or American countries and their influences will forever stay no matter how many centuries have passed. Also, this is one of the most readable. Although the verses are oftentimes playful, the storytelling is concise. Almost all the characters seem to be alive and the imageries that the scenes create seem like imprints that will stay in your mind for a long tim ...more
Philip
The Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai is a magnificent, impressive novel that ultimately is disappointing. As a process, the book is almost stunningly good. As a product, it falls short.

The book’s language, scenarios and juxtapositions are funny, threatening, vivid and tender all at the same time. The comic element, always riven through with irony, is most often to the fore, as characters grapple with a world much bigger than themselves, a world that only ever seems to admit them partially, and
...more
Paul
I'm not going to say that this novel is bad

(Chorus of GR friends : Say it, go on, you know you want to...)

but it was pretty ghastly for me. It was strangled to death by a style you could describe as inane wittering, a crew of characters all of which are loveably eccentric and a plot that Ms Desai believes will take care of itself as the inane wittering puthers all over the loveable eccentrics.

So, to sum up

BAH
JoAnne
Aug 09, 2007 JoAnne rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
i have only read half of this book, so perhaps i shouldn't rate it. but i want to warn other people away from it!

the author is obviously an intelligent writer, and she has a real mastery of language. much of the writing is somberly poetic. but perhaps she pays too much attention to detail..... the story is slow.....

i read up to the part where the judge returns from england and rapes his wife after she steals his powder puff, and i threw the book down in disgust.

it's not just what happens, but
...more
jess
While the writing was lovely and the theme of the conflicting Indian identities in post-colonial India and in the United States was really interesting and supported with well-developed characters... but.
I just couldn't get into it and found it like pulling teeth to get through.
Marlon James
When I finally met Salman Rushdie (!!!!) within seconds we got to talking about this book. Like Moshin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Inheritance tackles radical territory, more radical than you might think. Both novels break from the traditional immigrant novel by having the main character break from the country of adoption and return to the country of origin. Sure the act is nothing new, but the post 9/11 instability is. This is a lot more striking than you might think— the basic concep ...more
Aubrey
It was an awful thing, the downing of a proud man. He might kill the witness.
I was in the midst of my pre-reviewing laze that consists of gathering up thoughts and quotes and semi-but-not-really-pigeonholing-various-things when without warning the word 'satire' reared its head. It's not a word I get along with, what with its all too frequent usage as a blockade, a safety blanket, a "but it's a satire so I can say anything I want?!?!" that guarantees neither quality nor even simple entertainment
...more
Eveline Chao
i just started this. so far it has this very "pretty" style that i find a little too precious, but we'll see.
--
okay i'm only halfway through this & still disliking the writing style (so exquisite! so ethnic!) & her way of describing all action in present-tense gerunds is driving me nuts. but mostly i felt compelled to update because i just read like the grossest depiction of sex ever:

"in a dense frustration of lust and fury -- penis uncoiling, mottled purple-black as if with rage, blunde
...more
snackywombat (v.m.)
Jan 23, 2008 snackywombat (v.m.) rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: would-be everest climbers
With so much incredible praise riding on this book, I really expected more of it. So basically, I'm deducting points because I was disappointed by the build-up--I mean, the NBCC and Man Booker Prize? I guess that's not entirely fair though. Standing on its own, The Inheritance of Loss gives exactly what it promises. It describes the barren lives of characters that have been robbed of love or dignity or some necessary emotion in life, all juxtaposed against the twin backgrounds of an incredibly l ...more
Nicole Marble
Another Mann Booker prize winner this time from India. The first, and perhaps longest, lesson of the book is a new, to me, kind of poverty - inherited. After that, we see a pattern of life of many people in India and how the least of them are treated, and how they treat each other including when the lucky few (in their eyes) get to the US. One fascinating insight is the Hindu attitude to Islam - that Islam is so strict and so counterintuitive to human behavior that no one actually follows it. Th ...more
Marte Patel
Mar 19, 2007 Marte Patel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like books that draw you in
Shelves: fiction, india
Ever since Kiran Desai won the Man Booker Prize in October last year, as the youngest female winner in the award’s 39 year history, I have been wanting to read it. I picked up my paperback copy from Heathrow while flying home for Christmas, but could not find the time. I admit I felt slightly apprehensive, thinking that as a Booker Prize winner it must be a difficult, challenging read.

Then the book was chosen as the March title for the SYP Oxford Book Club and I suddenly had both a very good rea
...more
Chitralekha Paul
I completed reading this book but the strange thing is I am unable to rate it.I didn't have the patience to read it and sort of forced myself to go through. So I skipped most of the content to reach the end.The writing is no doubt powerful and strong. Some of the descriptions are too good but on the whole found the novel boring.The characters, except for the judge, the cook and Sai failed to have any impact. I was just not interested to know what the other characters did or felt. Is there somet ...more
Riku Sayuj
blown away by the ending...
Animesh
I come away with a lot better impression than that which I had upon reading the first 30 or so pages. It is a mature writing, with insight, sophistication, and a sense of the grandly tragic.

The author weaves a series of parallel stories--imageries--about some very different lives, each quixotic, each distinguished with a color of it own. All except one has only one thing in common--they are all cultural implants, all dancing in their separate destinies, spinning towards their fate that makes the
...more
Jana
I am being generous with this second star, and it's here because India with its English (post) colonisation is something that I can’t relate to, and something that I find interesting. But I still think this book is rather difficult to read and therefore difficult to like, I was really struggling. Desai’s characterisation is flat. She tried to do so much, plot itself is great, but I couldn’t relate, but relate at all, and it’s not because I am not an Indian so I don’t get the mentality, but becau ...more
Kristen
It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of complicated novels lately. To even try to explain all the story lines here and what I think it all means is just way more effort than I’m willing to spend. But this was a great book (why all the low ratings?)

Here are some bits I like:

“the present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind”

“He learned to take refuge in the third person and to keep everyone at bay, to keep even himself away from himself”

“he had been recruited to bri
...more
Velvetink
Short synopsis; 4 Stars for this one because it was beautifully written and I learned a lot about the history of the Gurkhas and the uprising in 1986 in Nepal, and much about Indian immigration to the USA & the UK and life for "illegals in America. Yet again I have pages of notes & no time soon to write a full report. It's also about racism and the caste system and as the name implies the inheritance of loss from previous generations. It won a number of awards, including the Man Booker P ...more
Jason Koivu
Loved the full, lush descriptions of The Inheritance of Loss, but wasn't too keen on the lack of focus or a strong main character. The pov was passed around to a handful of characters in order to show a variety of experiences. I would've preferred sticking with one or two of them at most, having them shoulder more of the narrative weight, rather than being jostled around so much. A lot of people seem to like this one, so perhaps chalk up the low rating to my taste in narrative style and read it ...more
James
The style of this book had no charms for this reader. I found the characters uninteresting and sometimes pathetic as I slogged my way through this dreary book. While there were moments of fine writing, for example the vital landscape is vividly portrayed, I could not overcome the disconnected approach the author used in telling her story. Stylistically the book jumped back and forth between different places and events in a way that seemed haphazard to me. Unfortunately there were no compelling c ...more
PSmith
this was my re-read, but didnot feel so as I had already forgotten many of the pertinent events. The beauty of the language hit me again - I just devoured the sentences, sometimes going back to read twice or thrice. The story deals with the events occuring during the Gorkha revolution in the eighties in a small place called Kalimpong in West Bengal (?supposedly close to Nepal and Sikkim). It shows how the revolution affected and molded those who were pro and anti Gorkhaland, and how innocent ord ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I have had this book since 2006 when it won the Man Booker prize; the title really sang to me and the book itself seemed a siren call. Yet, it languished on my bookcase for five years before I finally read it. And I'm not sure whether it was worth the wait, or if it's actually better that I read it now, since every year my mind matures more and more.

In the mountainous jungle region of Kalimpong in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas is a large stone house called Cho Oyu, built by a Scotsman bu
...more
Jesse
The Inheritance of Loss is the type of novel where page to page, sentence to sentence, sometimes even word to word, it's almost impossible not to get swept up in the intricate, swirling prose. I mean, take this passage, from the first pages of the book:

"Could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss? Romantically she decided that love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love was the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything arou
...more
Chidambaram Annamalai
Combining limitless imagination and virtuoso literary ability, Kiran Desai weaves a story of hope, despair, dejection, and profound sadness centered around the lives of ordinary Indians caught in a violent separatist campaign in northern Bengal. Her lyrical, almost poetic, prose reflect and exacerbate the emotions that course through the novel creating a poignance that is central to it. Set in an idyll paradise along the Himalayan foothills, the milieu provides the perfect foil for what is to co ...more
Milan/zzz
“Kiran Desai is a terrific writer” are the words of Salman Rushdie and indeed this can be seen from the opening paragraph of her second novel:
“All day, the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. Briefly visible above the vapor, Kachenjunga was a far peak whittled out of ice, gathering the last of the light, a plume of snow blown high by the storms at its summit.”
And this, almost liquid style is
...more
Schnaucl
I didn't like this book. Maybe it was an inability to empathize with another culture, but I think the more likely (I hope) explanation is that it felt like all the characters were given a very surface level treatment. There were 5 (arguably 6) characters the reader is supposed to care about but none of them are even close to being fully developed. I think it would have been a much stronger book if the author had focused on one or two characters and really developed them.

I'm also not sure why the
...more
Sps
The title made me procrastinate on starting this book. I didn't feel like being bogged down in tragic family saga, or a trap of postcolonial trauma.
And it was sort of both.
But I really enjoyed it anyway, with its gentleness and snarkiness, beating heart of natural beauty and little bursts of life history. It's well-peopled (you won't forget the judge, the cook, Noni and Lola, Sai, Mutt, Biju, Saeed Saeed...) and practically humid from the Kalimpong setting. Meanwhile the language is a treat be
...more
Niranjan Nair
Ms Desai was very successful at penning down the geography. I loved the way she drew out Kalimpong. But the story was lacking the pace which I expected (could be only me). To me it did not appeal much and was not a page turner.
Tnahsin Garg
Five years ago my father casually handed me a copy of this book. The cover looked decayed and the pages were unattractive. A gloomy, complex title accompanied by an Indian author's name had immediately earned my distrust. I chose to ignore the book in my effort then to only read fancy, foreign authors.

Now, as I've set myself to the task of digging up good Indian writing in English fueled by a desire to understand my own roots better, Desai's book is nothing less than a jewel. Someone who has tr
...more
Lilian
The writing in this novel is luscious, but it doesn't get in the way of moving the story forward. I don't know how Desai does it--I'm tempted to re-read the novel just to figure that out. I've read that there is some controversy among residents of Kalimpong, the town where the novel takes place, and an accusation of Anti-Nepalese sentiment. I didn't find that to be the case. Desai is equally ironic and castigating toward everyone in the novel and every social class.

Each sentence is gorgeous, th
...more
Prashant R
It is very rarely that one comes across a book which touches upon big issues, in such a richly felt, detailed yet economic manner.

"The Inheritance of Loss",i am sure would be Kiran Desai's breakthrough novel. Set in Kalimpong (that beautiful town in the North East of India)in the mid 80's, this novel follows the journeys(and exiles) of its principal characters.

The retired grumpy judge, Jemubhai Patel, studied in a Victorian England, groomed by the Raj,all of which made him rise above his humble
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Did anyone else notice the use of food? 5 54 Jul 25, 2013 08:00AM  
Brilliant! Luminous! Superb! (But is it really?) 30 278 Aug 05, 2012 08:24PM  
Foreign 2 36 Apr 10, 2009 04:15PM  
  • Something to Answer For
  • Saville
  • The Elected Member
  • Holiday
  • In a Free State
  • Offshore
  • The Conservationist
  • G.
  • How Late It Was, How Late
  • The Siege of Krishnapur (Empire Trilogy, #2)
  • Staying On
  • The Old Devils
  • Clear Light of Day
  • Rites of Passage (To the Ends of the Earth, #1)
  • Heat and Dust
  • Moon Tiger
  • Carry Me Down
  • The Middleman and Other Stories
31428
Kiran Desai is an Indian author who is a citizen of India and a permanent resident of the United States. She is the daughter of the noted author Anita Desai.

Desai's first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (1998), gained accolades from notable figures including Salman Rushdie, and went on to receive the Betty Trask Award. Her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss (2006), won the 2006 Man Booke
...more
More about Kiran Desai...
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard India Pack - 2003 (Threebies) AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India Generation 1.5

Share This Book

“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.” 2023 likes
“Could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss? Romantically she decided that love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love was the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself.” 102 likes
More quotes…