K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
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Dec 04, 11

bookshelves: 1001-non-core, booker, india, race
Recommended to K.D. by: Man Booker Prize 2006, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2004-2010)
Read from November 21 to December 04, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

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 time.

It may not be as comprehensive as Salman Rusdie’s Midnight’s Children although it is also about India that used to be under the British empire. However, it is more exact with its urgent message: the loss of the nation’s true identity due to western influences. The true Indian identity that was an amalgam of the nation’s own culture and tradition spawning several centuries when they were still free of foreign influences. After all, India has one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

It may not be as tear-jerking and bewildering as Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things although it is also about Indian families trying to survive the Third-World realities of life. However, it is more realistic with the characters finding themselves in the situations that were not imposed to them but mostly of their own choices. I think this is what made me appreciate Desai’s over Roy’s: that her characters have choices, despite the fact that those options are limited because of the harsh environment that they happened to live in.

It may not be as current as Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger although it is also about the changing landscape of a small Indian town. However, Desai’s storytelling is more engaging as she has this rare ability to take you in a roller-coaster ride: you’ll be in enthralled by her playful verses, in deep thoughts by her heartfelt message, in gratitude by being in a better state in life than her characters, in aversion to any form of racial discrimination by following the sad fate of Biju hopping from one job to another as an illegal alien in the USA and yet, in the end, you will feel cheering for her characters as you are able to identify yourself with them. That no matter what we go through in life, there is still hope that awaits us at the end of each tumultuous journey.

One of my GR friends once commented that he has veered away from novels with India as a setting because they are always about being destitute and poor. There may be some truth on this. However, novels are supposed to be about reality and that’s how most of the people live in India. I have been to Mumbai thrice. In my 27 years in the corporate world, I have been fortunate to work under 4 Indian nationals and each of them has been telling me about too much politicking that hinders the development and progress in their country. They are all good bosses: with good education, very smart, knowledgeable, conscientious, culture-sensitive and appreciative. They and the other Indian people I had a chance to meet make me wonder: how come that despite many good people in India, they seem to have difficulty in putting their acts together to propel their country to a higher ground?

Then I thought, I might as well be talking about the Filipinos and the Philippines.
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Reading Progress

11/21/2011 page 6
2.0% "Feels like the Nigerian book that I recently read and like: Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie's HALF OF THE YELLOW SUN. I hope I'll see the difference soon."
11/25/2011 page 34
9.0% "Resume reading today. I think I have to re-read some parts."
11/25/2011 page 46
12.0% "I like the story of the grandfather (the professor) who was amazed on the first time he went to England. Reminded me of Jose Rizal the first time he went to Spain."
11/27/2011 page 160
42.0% "I am beginning to think that the meaning of the title is the loss of cultural identity of Indians because of the British influence. Biju's sacred cows and unsacred cows. Judge hating the young Indian students who love British and western culture."
11/29/2011 page 383
100.0% "DONE reading. Review to come."

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Mary Very nice review- very thoughtful in paralleling to your life experience. Will read this one- thanks K.D.


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Marzie.


message 3: by Jinky (new)

Jinky I haven't read those comparative books so I can't relate there but your insights want me to put this on my tbr list ..actually, my "on deck" list. Thanks for the heads up. :)


Mohit Parikh "the characters finding themselves in the situations that were not imposed to them but mostly of their own choices"
So apt K.D.


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Mohit.


message 6: by Teresa (new)

Teresa This is a book that's been on my radar for quite some time. Now I know I'll have to get to it one of these days.


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, T. I hope you'll like it too! :)


message 8: by Judy (new)

Judy I loved this book. I haven't found many American readers who liked it and I think it is because they could not understand the characters. You could! I would also recommend to you Paradise of the Blind, by Duong Thu Huong (set in Vietnam) and The Geometry of God, by Uzma Aslam Khan (set in Pakistan.) Both give more insight to your question about formerly colonial countries getting their acts together. Thanks for a lovely review.


K.D. Absolutely Yay! I have "Paradise of the Blind" in my tbr, Judy. I will surely read it soon!

I'll hunt for teh other one.


message 10: by Cbj (new)

Cbj "I have been to Mumbai thrice. In my 27 years in the corporate world, I have been fortunate to work under 4 Indian nationals and each of them has been telling me about too much politicking that hinders the development and progress in their country. They are all good bosses: with good education, very smart, knowledgeable, conscientious, culture-sensitive and appreciative. They and the other Indian people I had a chance to meet make me wonder: how come that despite many good people in India, they seem to have difficulty in putting their acts together to propel their country to a higher ground? "

To understand the reasons for this, you need to read some V.S.Naipaul. But thanks for the review. I will try to read this soon.


message 11: by Dyuti (new)

Dyuti Your last paragraph, and your last line was beautiful. I mean, truly, what you said, made me sit back for a while and think.

Also, i have not yet read this one. Maybe I'll give it a shot!


Srinivas Dyuti wrote: "Your last paragraph, and your last line was beautiful. I mean, truly, what you said, made me sit back for a while and think.

Also, i have not yet read this one. Maybe I'll give it a shot!"



i tried twice to read this book, stopped in middle, after reading ur review, i will give another try, promised myself.


message 13: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Srinivas.


Little Creature I liked your review for seversl reasons -
a. You compared with other contemprory acclaimed Indian novels ( all those you mentioned, I happened to have read them all) and the comparision is very true.
b. You try to explain why Indian novels are mostly about destute poor people.
c. You made me think, if we are so educated and cultured then why are we in shambles?


message 15: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thank you, Ruchita. I also think that way for us Filipinos.


message 16: by Ajay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ajay I am glad you discovered the beauty of this book. Many Indians couldn't.


message 17: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Ajay, I really liked the way Indians are portrayed in this book. I thought it was realistic (based on what I saw in India).


message 18: by Krishna (new)

Krishna No point in comparing all other Indian writers in one review. Review hardly deals with the novel.


message 19: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Krishna, you have a point. How many times we can review a book without saying the same things.


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