Elliot Ratzman's Reviews > The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
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's review
Jul 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club
Read in March, 2011

Its India in the 1980s and nothing is static between these characters: a bitter retired Judge humiliated by England, only loves his dog, his young granddaughter abandoned by parents and her Nepalese romance, the dutiful cook, his son lost in the kitchens of New York—all displaced persons. The all-too-human drama looms large until the novel looks up as the clouds clear and the mountain colors of Darjeeling appear. The tragedies of “the family that never cared, the lover who forgot” place human foibles out of joint as the novels looks down to the simplicity of teeming, swarming life: “A stick insect as big as a small branch climbed the steps./A beetle with an impolitic red behind./A dead scorpion being dismantled by ants—first its Popeye arm went by, carried by a line of ant coolies…” In the shadow of growing Nepalese nationalism, such “simple bovine happiness” is impossible for our characters, nursing their secrets, trying to forget their pasts, castes and losses—a pitch perfect novel.

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