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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Universal themes made personal, 20 Jan 2008
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This review is from: The Inheritance of Loss (Paperback)
I have to disagree with many reviews of this book: I found it compelling, entertaining, beautifully written and thought-provoking. Anyone who has spent any period of their life living away from home for whatever reason will identify with the distracted difficulty of living "in a single existence at one time" that this book evokes.

I concede that it is a little flawed in structure and style, however I found the writing to be astonishingly lucid, humorous and insightful. The novel is built from a series of vignettes, some of which read almost as discrete short stories, some of which are as short as a couple of sentences. This approach is effective in portraying impactful images of setting and experience, and in supporting the theme of historical incoherence, where events develop almost of their own accord, nudged along by the naive and ignorant actions of people.

Elsewhere the themes of displacement, the complexity of distance, nostalgia, alienation from self and others, inauthenticity, foreign-ness, self-consciousness and human weakness across the generations are all played out under the shadow of Kanchenjunga mountain, the ultimate representation of truth and authenticity.

Desai throws us into the alienation experience of her characters by peppering her prose with unfamiliar Indian words. With the exception of Sai, Gyan and Biju, she identifies key characters either by their occupation or their nickname, in order to emphasise the mask of persona and lack of authentic will in each. Much more is made of the judge's affection for his pet dog Mutt than of the story of young love between Sai and Gyan, though in the end, youthful truth, love, wisdom and honesty provide precarious glimmers of hope and redemption.

The political buzzwords that appear on the dust jacket of this book don't really do it justice at all. This is a powerful and lyrically presented account of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the personal and the universal, and how one is so frequently and tragically ignorant of the other.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Sep 2009 16:08:45 BDT
Hi - BBC World Book Club here. We have Kiran on our programme soon and need questions from people who have read the book. Do you have a question you'd like to put to Kiran Desai on her book The Inheritance of Loss? If so, please email worldbookclub@bbc.co.uk

Thanks
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