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The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss

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Published by: onlinebookreview on Jan 17, 2010
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02/13/2014

 
Kiran Desai’s Man Booker prize-winning novel ‘ The Inheritance of Loss’ was published in 2006and won the Man Booker prize is a treat to the readers. She has the ability to captivate thereaders which she has already proved in her first book ‘Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard'. In thisbook as well, she has portrayed the events very meticulously, a skill probably inherited from her mother Anita Desai, who herself is a distinguished writer.The book is set in a small picturesque town of Kalimpong and the year in which the story is set isof in the late 1980’s. The story revolves around a 17-year-old girl Sai who is deported to her grandfather’s house Cho Oyu after her parents‘ death, her grandfather;the judge Jemubhai Patelwho is her grandfather and also a retired judge, her love interest Gyan, the cook and his son Bijuwho is in New York to earn big money. There are also characters like Lola and Noni, the twosisters, Father Booty and Uncle Potty who are not often talked about separately.They play shortbut important roles in the novel. The characters in the story have a penchant for westernizedthings.The narrative unfolds with some boys connected with Gorkha’s insurgency plundering the houseof the judge where Sai stays, making mockery of their lost wealth and taking away the gun whichbelonged to The judge. They also insulted them and made Sai make prepare tea for them.The book boasts of believable characters, characters of the post-colonial India who are still gluedto the colonial past. But they do not seem artificial. Desai has vividly described her characterseven including the animals are thoroughly defined. As one goes through the pages of the book,the scenes come alive whether it is the rainy day when Gyan and Sai’s romance bloomed or the judge’s memory of beating his wife Nimi. Though the novel juggles between the past and thepresent, flashback style is used but nowhere it seems that novel it is losing its plot, it is notmonotonous. You are glued to the book, you cannot keep it aside. It is not monotonous for even aminute and very hard to put down.Jemubhai Patel, the judge is a man who juggles between the past and the present. He sees hisgranddaughter as his own reflection, an Indian with white skin, completely ill at ease. He hasbeen cruel to his wife Nimi because after his return from England, he was unable to think thatanything Indian can be beautiful also. Only whites can be beautiful. They were aliens to eachother, who as she was not able to match up to his standards. He beat her ruthlessly for it. Saidemonstrated the same uncomfort discomfort after returning from the convent. Sai and the judgewere too civilized to eat with hands.Sai’s love interest Gyan, a Nepali, is caught between the love for Sai and hate for the bourgeoisclass. Though he loves Sai and misses her, he is unable to stand the class distinction betweenthem- he who uses a cheap brown soap and she who uses Lux, the beauty bar of the film stars.This hatred is made strong by listening to the GNLF leaders speech. He is fickle minded anddon’t doesn’t know exactly what he wants and his opinion changes as abruptly as his love for Sai.The cook is a man who has served the judge for many years and has become fond of the place.He is superstitious but also believes in science. He gives Sai all his affection and gets hurt whenshe doesn’t eat or praise his food. The cook often makes stories of his employer’s glorious past toraise his status among the servants of the area. He is worried about his son Biju who is shuttlingfrom one restaurant to another. The cook takes pride in his son that he is in America, the firstworld where everyone is rich and happy.Desai through Biju’s eyes had discussed the immigrants’ problems in the new world. Biju is anillegal immigrant like many others from other poor countries. They dream big of making moneybut their dreams are shattered when they have to live in penury. He has to cope with racialism just as the judge has had to do in the pre-independence days. Will Biju be able to get the greencard? Will he be able to meet his father? These questions haunts the readers.The demand for Gorkhland is gaining strength day by day and making life in Kalimpong hell. It is

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