Monday, February 12, 2007

Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai's Inheritance of Loss was a disappointment for me. With the booker tag and all the relevant noises, I expected a far more powerful novel than what Inheritance of Loss is.

The novel is about immigrant lives. There is Sai, an orphan teenager living with her Grandfather in a lonely life in Kalimpong with only the old cook and a handful of old neighbours for company. None of them belong to the hills and feel lost in midst of the raising Gorkha Nationalism. The other part of the novel is about the cook's son Biju who lives as an illegal immigrant in USA jumping from restaurant to restaurant and spending his time avoiding the INS. Kiran Desai juxtaposes both their lives and portrays the insecurity of the immigrants in an alien land. The narrative is easy flowing. Only in some places she lets the word play get the better of her like "The cook was shaken to his chutney core".

Some parts of the novel are charming, like the puppy love between Sai and her Nepali tutor Gyan or the character Saeed Saeed who is a shrewd fellow immigrant of Biju from Africa. However the Gujarati restaurant owner in NY was too stereo-typed.

A novel should stop you for a moment, make you think about your assumptions in life and should make you re assess your convictions. That for me is a good novel. The Inheritance of loss didn't have such an impact on me.

Also the Tamil novel I read on the return journey, "Pin thodarum Nizhalin Kadhai" was so far ahead of Desai's novel, that I am too harsh on The Inheritance of Loss.


subbudu said...

Pin thodarum Nizhalin Kadhai...or Kural ?

Chenthil said...

Subbudu - my mistake. It is kural, have changed it now.

Anonymous said...

hey chen,

i too felt the book is not great.
it was boring to death at times...

Revealed said...

Have you read No Onions Nor Garlic? I wanna get my hands on it and dunno where I can.

Giri said...

'Pin thodarum Nizhalin Kural' and 'Vishnupuram' by far are few of the best thought provoking books in Tamil. No one else has attempted anything like this before.
IoL is no surprise to have won the booker now that even for a simple awards politics plays a major/networking role.