This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

The Inheritance of Loss (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Kiran Desai

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,0041701,110 (3.41)1 / 532
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)
Title:The Inheritance of Loss
Authors:Kiran Desai
Info:Grove Press (2006), Edition: First Trade Paper Edition, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (2005)

Recently added byprivate library, GoingFeral19, Sarah1974, mnranjeeth, KJRoeth, braintumor, paulgolden, jimmyjazz76
  1. 100
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Soupdragon)
  2. 70
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (petterw)
  3. 10
    White Teeth by Zadie Smith (Korrick)
  4. 21
    Snow by Orhan Pamuk (dele2451)
  5. 21
    Small Island by Andrea Levy (kathrynnd)
  6. 10
    A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  7. 10
    The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Non-linear storytelling. Post-colonial novel. Deals with a period of political unrest.
  8. 00
    Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry (mcenroeucsb)
  9. 00
    Netherland by Joseph O'Neill (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Both have stunning writing making up for absence of plot, and common ground in terms of the immigrant experience in New York

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (162)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (169)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
"The present changes the past. looking back you do not find what you left behind."

Written in 2006 this book centres on two main characters, one an orphan living in the mountains of India one illegally in the US and looks at the conflict between the traditional Indian way of life and the apparent opulence of the West, in particular Britain and the US.

The story opens with Sai, a well-educated Indian girl living with her grandfather in the mountains of India bordering Nepal and Bhutan being beset by a group of intruders. Her grandfather is a retired judge, trying to live out his life in virtual isolation and decaying grandeur but one night they are robbed of food, guns and liquor by Nepalese separatists and this isolation is threatened. It is a turbulent time for them and the region.

Sai’s grandfather left and eventually killed his wife so when Sai is orphaned he takes on the responsibility of her upbringing and education, hiring a tutor, Gyan, to teach her mathematics and science when Sai's original tutor reaches the end of her own knowledge. The grandfather wants to leave behind the traditions of India, but feels guilty about his treatment of his wife whilst Sai falls in love with her tutor despite the difference in their social classes.

Meanwhile, the only servant in the house, the cook, worries about his son, Biju. Encouraged to do so by his father, Biju overstayed his tourist visa and lives illegally in the US working in kitchens for slave wages and generally being taken advantage of, often by immigrants to the country like himself.

As the political situation deteriorates and the separatists become ever more brazen each character must confront how they have lived their lives thus far.

Much of the novel deals with the effects of colonialism in the wake of Britain's withdrawal from the sub-continent when many Indians were fascinated by the English way of life, which seemed to offer more opportunities to escape from the squalor in their own country. However, Britain's withdrawal has also caused problems. When Western powers decided where the borders should be many ethnic minorities found themselves outsiders in their own country. India’s own class system is in itself also a stumbling block to progress.

The grandfather and granddaughter are upper class Indians. They are educated and in the case of the former judge spent time living in the West. This experience causes the grandfather to resent his Indian background, going as far as wearing white powder to try to hide his Indian colour. He returns home to his wife, but she reminds him of what he left behind in Britain, and spends the rest of her life in contempt of her.

Despite stories of riches, in America Biju lives in the same squalor that he hoped to leave behind him back in India, finding it a struggle find both food and shelter. He feels that his hopes have been betrayed and finally decides to give up his dream to return home to his father.

This then leads on to another major theme, isolation. Despite working for him for many years the judge treats the cook much the same as Biju is treated by his employers in America. The judge despises his Indian traditions and is more Western than Indian but despite never being accepted into English society, his neighbours treat him as a part of this Western culture, further isolating him as he fits into neither. Biju, in contrast hoped to escape class stigma by going to America but discovers the same prejudices. Sai and Gyan love one another, and try to bridge the gap but find themselves separated by insurmountable differences in social status.

The book then looks at post-colonial expectations of differing generations and classes as they search for identity after independence. It is by no means all gloom and doom. There are a number of set piece comic episodes involving minor characters. So why didn't I enjoy it more? I'm not really sure. I usually enjoy post-colonial novels. I think that it may have something to do with the sheer scope of this novel. I found that I couldn't really connect with any of the characters and for that reason somehow it just didn't gel with me. An OK but not a great read.

" The journey once begun, has no end." ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jul 28, 2019 |
For an award winning book, I was quite disappointed. I read 6/32 (56 pages) chapters and just couldn't finish reading it when I had 11 hours and/or 330 pages to cover. I found the book plotless. There were various narrators and I wasn't sure who was telling the story at any given moment. I thought maybe it was because I was listening to the audio, but then I got the book from the library, and still could not follow along. The characters were flat and I couldn't care about any of them. In two words: mundane and boring! ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Jun 5, 2019 |
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Set in the late 1980;s this story revolves around Sai, who goes to live with her Grandfather (A Judge) after losing both her parents. The second revolves around Biju, the son of Sai's (Grandfather's) Cook. Sai lives in India with a strict and often distracted grandfather. While Biju lives is the United States trying to make a living as a cook, and an undocumented immigrant.

The story moves at a slow pace with attention to detail, and rich dialog. The characters are well developed and I got to know each one well. Both Sai and Biju are very likable and each is gong through their own personal discoveries. They face many challenges and want to achieve the best they can out of life. Overall I found The Inheritance of Loss enjoyable and feel others will enjoy it as well. ( )
  SheriAWilkinson | Mar 3, 2019 |
Cruel, oh so cruel. This privileged daughter of a famous author, well educated and rich creates some down trodden loser characters in a fading town and then trods on them even further. It made for depressing reading and I did not see the point. I admit, I could not get past the image of this rich, young, beautiful and successful woman creating these characters and laughing at their misery all through the book (yes, she is laughing, read the book if you do not believe me). And, she got a Booker for it, right! ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
I’m puzzled by blurbs that describe this book as humorous, comedic, and joyful; I found it pretty depressing. I can’t say too much less spoilers, but it’s overlapping stories of Indians in India and in the United States. The characters all seem utterly helpless in the face of malign forces out of their control, ranging from government bureaucracy to political insurrection. I should clarify; it’s definitely a good book, insightful and worth reading, but if you’re looking for something light and cheerful look elsewhere. ( )
1 vote setnahkt | Jan 24, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kiran Desaiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lai, Chin-YeeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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
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.
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)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.41)
0.5 6
1 43
1.5 11
2 148
2.5 50
3 384
3.5 123
4 396
4.5 52
5 161

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141027282, 0141399368

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 141,644,166 books! | Top bar: Always visible