The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss

Product ID: 18048

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Author: Kiran Desai
Publisher: Penguin/Viking
Year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 325
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670058785


In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace from a world he has found too messy for justice, when his orphaned grand-daughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are claimed by his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another, trying to stay a step ahead of the INS on an elusive search for a green card that was not even green.

When an Indian-Nepali insurgency in the mountains interrupts Sai’s exploration of the many incarnations and facets of a romance with her Nepali tutor, and causes their lives to descend into chaos, they are forced to consider their colliding interests. The cook witnesses the hierarchy being overturned and discarded. The judge must revisit his past, his own journey and role in their intertwining histories.

In a generous vision, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, Desai presents the human quandaries facing a panoply of characters that include Biju’s friend from Zanzibar at the Queen of Tarts bakery with his philosophy of no sweati, bossi, a pair of anglophile sisters devoted to the BBC, and a Swiss priest with a passionate plan for inspiring cheese making across the Himalayas.

This majestic novel of a busy, grasping time-every moment holding out the possibility of hope or betrayal –illuminates the consequences of colonialism and global conflicts of religion, race, and nationalism.


Kiran Desai is a terrific writer. This book richly fulfills the promise of her first.
-Salman Rushdie

A whirlwind of a novel, rich and sad and funny. Kiran Desai moves between New York and the northeast corner of India; between the sense of loss and the sense of possession; between the big notion of colonialism and the small notion of intimacy. Desai’s enchanting-often hilarious-descriptions are a pleasure to read.
-Roxana Robinson, Author of A Perfect Stranger and Other Stories

Stunning, alternately comical and contemplative, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a better life, when one person’s wealth means another’s poverty.
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

If god is in the details, Ms Desai has written a holy book. Page after page, from Harlem to the Himalayas, she captures the terror and exhilaration of being alive in this world.
-Gary Shteyngart, Author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook

A revelation in the possibilities of the novel. It is vast in scope, from the peaks of the Himalayas to the immigrant quarters of New York; the gripping stores of people buffeted by winds of history, personal and political. Kiran Desai’s voice is fiercely funny-a humor born out of darkness, the laughter of the dispossessed. It is a remarkable novel because it is rich in that most elusive quality in fiction: wisdom.
-Suketu Mehta, author of The Divine Husband

A nation’s tragedies, great and small, are revealed through the hopes and the dreams, the innocence and the arrogance, the love betrayed, and the all-too-human failings of a superbly realized cast of characters. Kiran Desai writes of postcolonial India, of its poor as well as its privileged, with a cold eye and a warm heart. The Inheritance of Loss is an exquisite novel: mature, significant, and a first-rate read.
-Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment