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The Inheritance of Loss

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  44,494 ratings  ·  3,746 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
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John Grinstead I suspect that the author is the only person who can answer your question with any accuracy but I would question its relevance. As you rightly point…moreI suspect that the author is the only person who can answer your question with any accuracy but I would question its relevance. As you rightly point out, this is fiction and whilst the events in Kalimpong provide a useful vehicle for the events and people that are described they also reflect a certain amount of reality - stereotypes become such for a reason. I knew several characters that closely matched the ‘stereotype’ of the judge and the two sisters and, indeed, the cook but I do not think that any of this detracts from the quality of the writing.(less)

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3.42  · 
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 ·  44,494 ratings  ·  3,746 reviews


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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Paul Bryant
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, india
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
Philip
Aug 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Marlon James
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Paul
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There is a tendency to assume that anything that has won the Booker prize must be problematic, however I found this winner to actually pretty good. The novel moves points of view and location regularly. It shifts between the foothills of the Himalayas near Kalimpong (set in 1986 with the Gorkhaland movement as a backdrop) and New York and periodically goes back to the pre-war colonial period. The main characters centre on the household of Jemubhai a retired judge, Sai (his granddaughter), the co ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai
The Inheritance of Loss is the second novel by Indian author Kiran Desai. It was first published in 2006. It won a number of awards, including the Man Booker Prize for that year, the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award in 2007, and the 2006 Vodafone Crossword Book Award. The story is centered on two main characters: Biju and Sai. Biju is an undocumented Indian immigrant living in the United States, son of a cook who works for Sai's grandfather. Sai is a
...more
JoAnne
Aug 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
jess
Mar 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
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.
Joey
I am very interested in reading books on India since I read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. This novel gave me an idea about life of Indians (although I already studied it in our high school History. ) I became more interested when I read A White Tiger by Aravind Adiga from which I learned the real face of social system in India, that people in the lower class get through miserable and sordid life. This fact opened my mind then. Probably, the novel that has had a significant impact upon me so far is R ...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 entertainmen
...more
Roger Brunyate
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india-etcetera
 
Living in the Past

Most of this brilliantly-titled book is set in a small Himalayan community at the foot of Kanchenjunga, where a retired and reclusive Indian judge lives with his orphan grand-daughter Sai, his cook, and his dog. The judge's house is a decaying relic of the British Raj, and virtually everybody in the story has been touched in some way by the dead hand of colonialism, in language, lifestyle, and loyalties. Rising in the background is the potential violence of the Ghorka national
...more
Zanna
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a one of those books that makes me want a sixth star, one that I had to put down constantly to take a moment to close my eyes, see the landscape, ride the emotion, work the thought through, one that dreamed me into a never land that, against the feebleness of my imagination, really exists in the indigo shadows of Kanchenjunga. It took my breath and squeezed my heart. Along with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, it is my favourite novel, ever, about migration. I hope I live to read i ...more
Vonia
Truth be told, I feel like I hated this novel. Alas, I realize that I am being unduly biased against it for a few reasons. The primary reason is how lauded it is, including winning an award that I have a special respect for: The Man Booker Prize (2006). This is thus far the most undeserving winner that I have read.

To begin with, this novel has no focus; it has some colorful characters, some touching scenes, some inspiring vignettes, an overall well researched amount of data regarding immigratio
...more
snackywombat (v.m.)
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Fiona
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I’d like to thank the person who bought this book in Waverley Station, Edinburgh on 2/11/09, probably to read on a train journey, and subsequently left it for me to find in a charity shop on the outskirts of Glasgow. I bought it because I liked the title and the cover, a method I’ve found quite reliable in finding good books and new authors, serendipitous though it is!

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It deservedly won the Man Booker in 2006. It is set in the years of the c
...more
Jignasha
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
1980s. A dilapidated house in the valleys of Kalimpong, India. A retired, loveless judge, an isolated teenager Sai, a hapless cook and a dog.

1980s. Many restaurants in USA. Biju, the cook’s son, working and getting kicked out from one to the other, trying to survive in a foreign land.

The novel focuses on the lives of Sai and Biju, who in their own ways are struggling to understand their place in the world. It is set against the backdrop of the Gorkhaland revolution in India, when the Gorkhas rev
...more
Caleb
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian, man-booker
I started this book as a before-bed read and found it difficult to get into. I got to around page 75, then realized I had no idea what was going on, pulled out my bookmark, and promised I'd start afresh in a few weeks.

Boy, am I glad I actually did start it again. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Once I day read it, everything started coming into focus and I couldn't put it down.

The four main characters provide so much food for thought that it's hard to decide who gave the best performance. I'm
...more
Marte Patel
Mar 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jason Koivu
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
blown away by the ending...
Juhi
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
The story starts with the story of Sai who just lost her parents and has come to stay with her grandfather in kalimpong. The story jumps back and forth in time, from character to character( so many characters simultaneously). The transition is very swift and it does bother in the beginning but you get used to it.
This book revolves around 2 main issues. Indians migrating for better life opportunities to Europe and USA and the movement of Gorkhaland in Kalimpong.
The main crux of the story is when
...more
Nicole Marble
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jana
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am being generous with this second star, and it's here because I can't relate to India with its English (post) colonisation but I find it 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- the plot itself is great, but I couldn’t connect and it’s not because I am not an Indian so I don’t get the mentality, but because her writing was – unstable. Emotionless. No ...more
Kristen
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, fiction
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
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Em*bedded-in-books*
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
Jesse
Nov 28, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Animesh
Jun 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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554 followers
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
“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.” 2273 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.” 137 likes
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