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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
The Inheritance of Loss
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Showing 1-10 of 25 reviews(2 star). See all 106 reviews
on 18 August 2017
Well written and easy to read, but so little in terms of a plot line I had to make myself continue reading it. Jumps back and forth between characters and timelines without much to keep your interest. Wouldn't encourage me to try reading another book by the same author.
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on 24 April 2012
I bought this book on the basis that it was a Man Booker Prize winner, and that usually means that a good read is in store. I was disappointed. This is a narrative without any real plot, and as far as I could see very little point. Some things happen, but not for any particular reason.

I found myself for the most part forcing myself to keep reading, in the vain hope that I might understand what the plot of this book was. That moment never came. The characters of Sai, Gyan and the cook were all weak, as was the older judge. None of the characters seem to have any notable affection for each other, so it is hard to have any affection for them.

The notable exceptions to the general weakness of the book were the narratives of Biju in New York, and the narrative of the younger judge in England. These two stories were far more involving. Particularly I craved the chapters that returned to Biju, for a break from the boredom of the other narratives. Biju's story was almost completely unrelated to the main narrative - it could have dropped right out - or rather could have stood alone as its own novel (and I would read that happily) albeit it would have had to be longer.
I gather than Lola and Noni and Father Booty were supposedly significant characters, but I still have no idea who they were, what they did, what their story was. That strikes me as odd at the end of a book!

I would not recommend this book, unfortunately.
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on 12 June 2017
This is a rather typical modern novel, written for the cognoscenti elite with little, in my opinion, regard for the wider reading public. As such it is reminiscent of Salman Rushdie's deliberately obscurant and tortuous tomes. Filled with unknown-outside-India words that are, however, set in italics to draw attention to them - why, I know I don't know what they mean and don't need attention drawn to them. Further, the tale has a downward trajectory: all events, characters and places are deeply grim and proto-depressing. If there was hope for a grin here and there, that would help, but, no, none. If you want to enjoy this kind of grim ethnic reading and smile, I suggest Christopher Brookmire's A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away instead. Or for a better Indian tale try Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
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VINE VOICEon 4 May 2011
This is mostly set in Himalayas in Nepal in times of growing unrest and concentrates on the impact of this on 5 or 6 characters; I've read the focus is supposed to be Sai and Biji. Most of the characters have had strong links to the British Empire and much of the book looks at how, because of this, they are now increasingly isolated.

Biji has left to seek his fortune in America and we follow his progress over time. Sai is a somewhat isolated lonely character who now finds herself living in a old large house in the mountains with her grandfather, the judge.

The main problem for me is only two characters really grabbed my interest (Sai and the Judge) and I never really felt that any of the characters were that convincing or rather their back story lacked depth and detail. Later Noni and Lola become interesting characters, or rather are in an interesting (not nice) situation, but are then abandon by the author and I wanted to know more about them!

I found the book quite hard going most of the way through, more interesting in the last quarter but not that satisfactorily concluded. I also missed any of the humour reportedly in the book.

Occasionally there's some very nice turns of phrase; occasionally some shocking ones. The author has been vague about the time this all occurs and this works well to disorientate the reader (if you know little about the area) and perhaps this is their overall aim with the writing: an unsettling novel to mirror the characters unease. Perhaps you are not meant even to like these characters.

Overall it didn't work for me in terms of being an engaging book but I obviously missed something as this was a man booker winner in 2007. I will however look to find out more about the region.
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on 12 November 2007
Not a lot to say about this book. Beautifully written of course but like so many "award winning" or "highly recommended" books which have been thrust at us recently, this is just not true story telling - wonderful characters but they go nowhere - superb scenes are set but there's no intrigue, no plot, NO STORY. One feels cheated and manipulated. A writer who can write "grand narratives" should be able to entertain as well as astound us. Come on people, let's get back to good old-fashioned stories.
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on 12 May 2009
I found that I really had to push myself to finish this book, having just finished Half of a Yellow Sun, Inheritance of Loss did not compare favourably at all. Both books are set in countries and eras (Half of a Yellow Sun is set during the civil war in Nigeria in the 60's) that I am unfamiliar with, however I don't feel that I learned anything from Inheritance of Loss, Half of a Yellow Sun meanwhile taught me a lot about Nigeria and Africa in general at that time, and did not leave me feeling like I had been lectured at or hit over the head with a great wad of information.

The characters in Inheritance of Loss were dull, one-dimensional and I found it hard to care about what happened to them. It was almost like the author expected me to already understand the political implications of the times when in fact I would have liked the book to show this more. Also I spent half of the book trying to work out which decade it was, I had guessed around the 80's but this was only confirmed in a later chapter. I don't know if this is just in the hard back version but the random lines in the middle of the page were very off putting as I thought it signified a new scene only to discover after a few sentences it was the same scene and I had to go back and read them again! Very annoying.
All in all I was very disappointed with this book and with the author's writing style (a bit erratic), I don't think I will be reading another Kiran Desai book in the near future.
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on 28 May 2011
I took ages to finish this book! Usually my boyfriend complains about my reading books late into the night as I just can't get enough..but this time he was amazed that I took so long to finish it, I nearly didn't!! Like some of the other readers, I only continued reading as I thought any minute now it will get interesting! But it didn't. I would have liked to see Sai and Gyan's romance blossom a little more. There were too many characters and Kiran kept jumping from one to the other, not going into enough detail about any of them :-(
I chose the book as it won the prize, but quite disappointed.
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on 27 March 2013
If I hadn't been reading this for my reading group I think I wouldn't have finished the book, and I rarely abandon things before they are finished. I found it very difficult to read and even struggled to make progress on my 24 hour flight back from New Zealand when I desperately looking for something to do... Everyone in the group found it a tough read too.

The characters all have a difficult lives in challenging times and there isn't really any light at the end of the tunnel for any of them.
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on 21 August 2008
Like some other reviewers, I read this for book club and in common with most reviewers I struggled to marry the childish writing, overuse of capital letters, non-existent plot, profusion of exclamation marks, gauche caricatures and liberal sprinkling of local Indian words which made no sense even in context, with the fact that it won the Booker Prize. '"Ow ow," Sai said.' '"Drat" he said.' I've read more insightful prose on a cereal packet.

I heartily agree with the reviewer who wondered if a white writer would get away with such slack stereotyping. For example, a minor character returns to the USA after being deported and meets the very same immigration officer who threw him out before. 'Thank heavens we all look the same to them!' he concludes with the casual racism common to almost all of the characters as he is nevertheless allowed back to the USA. 'After we gave you such a good chance!' thinks an American employer when an illegal Indian worker says he is leaving. Please - real people are far less self-absorbed than Desai seems to think.

Here is a tale where every character has inherited not loss but infantile, petty prejudice about everyone they encounter. Desai has described a world I find hard to recognise, where rich and poor are both preoccupied with their standing in the world and obsessed with passage to the USA, where what the neighbours think of you really is the only important thing to worry about. Desai seeks to create barriers of class, education, race, birth place, religion - you name it, she'll demonstrate an irreconcilable 'them and us' self-importance - whereas I find real people are just not that concerned about which school you went to, your skin colour or who your parents are. Disappointingly for this self-appointed chronicler of modern global life, most people are far too busy simply going about their own lives to indulge in the pompous categorising of their fellow human beings that Desai seems fascinated with.

I feel like I've read this book dozens of times already, and better - sprawling epic over several generations and continents where all characters are forced to re-examine their own history, told in that oh so fashionable, choppy, non-chronological way. This is hardly the worst book I ever read but its self-conscious, crude analysis of the human condition belongs in the student newspaper, not with the cachet of the Booker Prize.
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on 10 November 2013
This book was the choice of my Reading Club, but I found it very slow, found it difficult to like any of the characters and spent the time waiting for something to happen; some shape to take place. It is well written and easy to read, but I just couldn't get into it. I like a book that I look forward to picking up; this isn't it.
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