Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Length: 336 pages
About: Postclonial despair set in Himalyan foothills
Style: 3rd person
Where: India & US
In the north-eastern Himalayas, at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga, in an isolated and crumbling house, there lives an embittered old judge, who wants nothing more than to retire in peace. But with
the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and the son of his chatty cook trying to stay a step ahead of US immigration services, this is far from easy.
All day, the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. Briefly visible above the vapor,
Kanchenjunga was a far peak whittled out of ice, gathering the last of the light, a plume of snow blown high by the storms at its summit.
Sai, sitting on the veranda, was reading an article about giant squid in an old National Geographic. Every now and then she looked up at Kanchenjunga, observed its wizard phosphorescence with a
shiver. The judge sat at the far corner with his chessboard, playing against himself. Stuffed under his chair where she felt safe was Mutt the dog, snoring gently in her sleep. A single bald
lightbulb dangled on a wire above. It was cold, but inside the house, it was still colder, the dark, the freeze, contained by stone walls several feet deep.
ALTHOUGH it focuses on the fate of a few powerless individuals, Kiran Desai's extraordinary new novel manages to explore, with intimacy and insight, just about every contemporary international
issue: globalization, multiculturalism, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist violence. Despite being set in the mid-1980's, it seems the best kind of post-9/11 novel.
The New York Times, Pankaj Mishra, 12th February 2006 for full review click
Not so good:
The Inheritance of Loss is perhaps overlong, and on occasion digressive; its vividly painted backdrops and multiple motifs sometimes overshadow its characters. But Desai's bold, original voice,
and her ability to deal in grand narratives with a deft comic touch that affectionately recalls some of the masters of Indian fiction, make hers a novel to be reread and remembered.
The Independent, Aamer Hussein 8th September 2006 for full review click here
About the author
Kiran Desai was born 3rd September 1971 in India, and was educated in India, England and the United States. She studied creative writing at Columbia University and is the daughter of the author,
Anita Desai, who herself has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times.