Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Inheritance of Loss

This novel by Kiran Desai won the 2006 Booker Prize and was a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Reviews of the novel are highly complimentary. One review by author Gary Shteyngart states, "...she captures the terror and exhilaration of being alive in the world." I am not certain if I experienced much "exhilaration" while reading this. I found the novel overwhelming sad with moments of light.

The main characters in The Inheritance of Loss are an elderly and retired judge, his granddaughter named Sai, the judge's cook and the cook's son, Biju. There are many other characters that receive ample discussion as well. Some of the most heartening passages concern Biju in his attempts to "make it" in the United States as an Indian immigrant. Desai perfectly captures the disillusionment of the immigrant experience through Biju, while going back and forth between events in India and Biju's new "home" in New York City.

Although the novel ends on a hopeful note of reunion, I experienced this primarily as a work that illustrates the suffering of the human condition and missed opportunities.