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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 20 February 2007
This is a very disappointing novel. Desai tries hard to make her writing have a political and domestic punch, to create a cast of characters both comic and tragic, to essentially use the template of the English Victorian novel to entertain and educate. Unfortunately, some of the main characters, most notably co-protagonist Sai, fail to engage the reader whilst others like her bitter grandfather and his neighbours are clichéd portrayals. Inheritance is certainly not in the league of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy or any of Rohinton Mistry's extraordinary work such as A Fine Balance or Family Matters. The theme Desai tackles in the novel, the inability to integrate/assimilate into an alien Western world, is tremendously interesting, but only rarely does she produce a scene that addresses this with any depth or originality. The novel is at its best with the story of Biju, living and working illegally in the US; but even though what he goes through as he is preyed upon by avaricious restaurant owners looking for cheap labour is horrific, there's no psychological depth in the narrative voice to emphasis the horror of alienation and express its results. Desai just touches the surface of despair in the stories of Biju in the US and the Sai's grandfather as a university student in England. Although Inheritance is not a short book, it fails to leave the reader with anything other than a superficial brush against the important issues of racism, dislocation, assimilation and post colonialism.
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