Book Review

The Inheritance of Loss

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd          By Kiran Desai
Kiran Desai’s THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS received the Man Booker prize in 2006. The book’s interpretations are rich in eloquent prose, and themes like, sense of loss, multiculturalism, economic inequality, postcolonial chaos, nationhood,

interconnected world, identity-crisis, love, dislocation, third world countries, American dream, and loneliness.

The protagonists are the retired judge, his grand-daughter Sai, their cook, and Biju, the son of the cook.

The characters share common historical past of British colonialism. The judge has just one friend, Bose. His lonely companionship with chess without a dual player reminds and signifies the white British Empire, which ruled many parts of the world without a competitor. Only a pet dog fits in his solitude. Sai is affected by Gyan, who joins the Nepali revolution. Their split adds to her loneliness.

It is ironical that the cook is nationless inside the nation. His son, Biju, is nationless outside. The American Dream is inadequate to fulfill the emotional and basic needs of Biju. Earlier, Britain could not hem the gaps. Today, the United States has failed.

The “mist” image is dominant. It is compared to “a moving creature”. It has human attributes. It is compared to the “caress” in the hairs of Sai. It gets lifeful comparison when compared to a dragon. It blurs the thieves. It is so powerful, that the Sun is hardly mentioned.

Love theme, recurs in the novel. Noni never had love in her life. The servants experienced love from the economic structure of relationship. To the cook, the greatest love is love that is never shown. Sai had a new understanding with cats ever since love with Gyan.

The structural unity starts with the description of the five peaks and ends with the same.

Like ants men would make their paths and civilization and their wars once again only to be washed once again. Sai lost her parents. The uprooted revolution gave Gyan loss and affected Sai too. It was an irony that United States, a country built on the finest principles was loss to, immigrant Biju. It is a paradox that the question of homeland was same as in Kalimpong, as is in America.

There is hope too in the novel. Father Booty tells Sai, to always look at the horizon that always helps. The damp wood was not giving right fire, when lit by the cook in the beginning of the narrative. In the end, the soggy match was tried to be lit by Sai and at last, it lit and flared. The beginning and the end with fire shows structure. The juxtaposition of qualities in the images also speaks of the poetic conversions in the famous novel by Kiran Desai. September 2010

Mumtaz Mazumdar who is pursuing higher education in Silchar, Assam, reviewed the book for indigenousherald.com