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The Inheritance of Loss (2006)

by Kiran Desai

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,5941811,256 (3.42)1 / 551
An embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace lives in a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge's cook watches over Sai distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another.… (more)
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» See also 551 mentions

English (173)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (180)
Showing 1-5 of 173 (next | show all)
Judge Patel, his granddaughter, Sai, and a cook live in a formerly grand, now dilapidated, house in the shadow of the Himalayas, near the border of India with Nepal. Their personal stories are set against a backdrop of political unrest in the Kalimpong region in northeastern India. The cook’s son, Biju, has emigrated to the United States and has stayed without a green card. He obtains one menial job after the next, is treated poorly, and ultimately decides to make a significant change.

This is an ambitious book that tries to blend many themes and stories together. We have Sai’s love/hate relationship with her tutor, a robbery that ties into the political situation, and the backstories of almost every character, including several ancillary characters. I was engaged at the beginning of the book but, with all the competing storylines, it bogged down a bit in the middle.

The writing is strong. It does not contain an overarching narrative arc that sustains the whole. It is more of a patchwork quilt including themes such as colonialism, sect-related prejudices in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, the tribulations of illegal immigrants in the US, and class-related injustices. I can say I enjoyed reading it for the cultural aspects and the descriptions of the landscape and life in this remote region, but I prefer a storyline that is a little more tightly focused. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
A brilliant book, possibly the best I have read this year.
Interwoven stories written in stunning, lyrical prose.
Gritty and tender at the same time. A real gem. ( )
  kazzer2u | Aug 15, 2022 |
Reason read: Asian Author Challenge (India), 1001, ROOT, Booker (2006)
This novel has been on my shelf since 2013. I found it slow to get into so never really got it started but I've read it now. It has two points of view (life in the US as an illegal) and life in India (anglicized). It's a story that informs of the internal conflicts within India post colonization. It's the impact of the past and present on the present and future generations. It features the Gorkhaland Movement.The term Gorkhaland was coined by Subhash Ghisingh, leader of Gorkha National Liberation Front, who led a violent agitation for its formation in the 1980s.This movement culminated with the formation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) in 1988. Topics addressed in the book include; globalization, multiculturalism, economic inequalities, fundamental and terrorist violence. ( )
  Kristelh | Jun 13, 2022 |
DNF. All icing no cake. Frequently lovely writing, very high craftsmanship, but lacking any momentum at all. Most of the novel plays out like a lazy memory, which needed a bit more energy to get going - and all the well-observed details in the world can't save a non-existent plot. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Nov 1, 2021 |
A complicated exploration of colonialism from the view of Indians living near the Nepal border, and their relatives in England and the United States. It traces how political turmoil affects the interconnected web of people. It is a bleak book, but well worth the read. ( )
  Aldon.Hynes | Sep 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 173 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Desai, Kiranprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lai, Chin-YeeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montijn, HienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simhan, MeeraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Boast of Quietness

Writings of light assault the darkness, more prodigious than meteors.
The tall unknowable city takes over the countryside.
Sure of my life and my death, I observe the ambitious and would like to understand them.
Their day is greedy as a lariat in the air.
Their night is a rest from the rage within steel, quick to attack.
They speak of humanity.
My humanity is in feeling we are all voices of the same poverty.
They speak of homeland.
My homeland is the rhythm of a guitar, a few portraits, an old sword, the willow grove's visible prayer as evening falls.
Time is living me.
More silent than my shadow, I pass through the loftily covetous multitude.
They are indispensable, singular, worthy of tomorrow.
My name is someone and anyone.
I walk slowly, like one who comes from so far away he doesn't expect to arrive.

-Jorge Luis Borges
Dedication
To my mother with so much love
First words
All day, the colours had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths.
Quotations
An accident, they said, and there was nobody to blame - it was just fate in the way fate has of providing the destitute with a greater quota of accidents for which nobody can be blamed.
Just ordinary humans in ordinary opaque boiled-egg light, without grace, without revelation, composite of contradictions, easy principles, arguing about what they half believed in or even what they didn't believe in at all, desiring comfort as much as raw austerity, authenticity as much as playacting, desiring coziness of family as much as to abandon it forever.
...and he felt a flash of jealousy as do friends when they lose another to love, especially those who have understood that friendship is enough, steadier, healthier, easier on the heart. Something that always added and never took away. (Ch 39)
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Wikipedia in English (4)

An embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace lives in a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge's cook watches over Sai distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another.

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Average: (3.42)
0.5 6
1 46
1.5 11
2 155
2.5 52
3 410
3.5 126
4 422
4.5 51
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141027282, 0141399368

 

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