Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Inheritance of Loss

Written by Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss was published in 2006.

As I read this novel, I was taken right into Sai's world with her, and could feel the invisible chains all around this young 17-year-old orphan, living with her cold and grouchy grandfather, in his delapidated and crumbling house. Though he is a retired judge, her grandfather simply cannot afford to make any repairs, and can just about manage to retain the services of his last servant, the cook. Likewise, they live their daily lives without any changes or improvements. Change is going on around them, however, as India experiences social unrest and insurgents roam around, some of whom even rob Sai's family. Sai is quite isolated in this environment and it is easy to understand how she might begin to fall in love with the only young man who regularly visits their home: her tutor.

I loved how Ms. Desai's developed the characters and thought that her ability to evoke sympathy for them was terrific. I understood the grandfather better after reading his experiences in England during his studies there as a young man. Because he was so lonely, he spent long hours studying.

Page 45
He retreated into a solitude that grew in weight day by day. The solitude became a habit, the habit became the man, and it crushed him into a shadow.

But shadows, after all, create their own unease, and despite his attempts to hide, he merely emphasized something than unsettled others. For entire days nobody spoke to him at all, his throat jammed with words unuttered, his heart and mind turned into blunt aching things,......


New York was portrayed as being a really harsh environment for the young son of the cook who came to make his fortune. But so too was India upon his return.


The writer's descriptive abilities are excellent and as example, I have to share with you the opening sentences. They are simply beautiful and very poetic.

Page 1
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 winds at its summit.

No comments:

Post a Comment