Stoyan Stoyanov's Reviews > The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
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's review
Oct 12, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction
Read in August, 2009

This is, beyond doubt, one of the best books I have ever read. In fact, if you are reading this, drop whatever you are doing and read this book. Literature can hardly get better than this. Love, loss, friendship, family... immigration and colonialism -- it is all here and presented with such grace and beauty as to make you weep. I will stop praising this book now and just offer two excerpts.

The description of one of the characters: "He was a shriveled figure in a white shirt and black trousers with a buckle to the side. The clothes were frayed but clean, ironed by the cook, who still ironed everything -- pajamas, towels, socks, underwear, and handkerchiefs. His face seemed distanced by what looked like white powder over dark skin -- or was it just the vapor? And from him came a faint antibiotic whiff of cologne, a little too far from perfume, a little too close to preserving liquid. There was more than a hint of reptile in the slope of his face, the wide hairless forehead, the introverted nose, the introverted chin, his lack of movement, his lack of lips, his fixed gaze. Like other elderly people, he seemed not to have traveled forward in time but far back. Harking to the prehistoric, in attendance upon infinity, he resembled a creature of the Galapagos staring over the ocean." (p. 37)

And, in my view, the perfect rationale for immigration, in a few sentences -- sheer brilliance: "He thought of how often he wished he might line up at the American embassy or the British, and leave. "Listen Momo," he had said to a delighted Sai, "let's go to Australia." Fly away, bye-bye, ta-ta. Free from history. Free from family demands and the built-up debt of centuries." (p.173)

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