In my quest to read more international Anglophone works, I sort of got sidetracked by other books from the library. So reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai is a way for me to get back on track a bit. It’s also the 2006 Man Booker Prize Winner, so hooray for checking another Booker title off my list! I really appreciated the themes in this novel, even if it was sometimes a bit dense or unfamiliar (but that’s a good thing, I believe).
The story centers on two young adults: Sai, a sixteen-year-old orphan living with her grandfather, a retired judge, in the foothills of the Himalayas on the border of India and Nepal; and Biju, the son of the judge’s cook, who is an illegal immigrant in the United States, trying desperately to find his American Dream, even as he lives in unsafe conditions and scrounges from job to job. Revolution occurs, and the remote town Sai and her grandfather live in is torn to pieces. Meanwhile, she falls in love, and the cook and Biju try to maintain their connections, though they are separated by two different worlds.
This is a well-written story that centers on the effects of colonialism and capitalism in India. Desai is a skilled writer and invests you in her novel, especially the many threads and characters that bring the plot together. The problem with power is that it crushes those without power and brings more money and wealth to those who already have it. Desai does not hesitate from irony and discomfort, and you find plenty of both in the novel. If you are interested in international/Anglophone literature, you should give this book a read.