Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (2006), 357p.
Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss won the Man Booker Prize as best novel in the UK and not without reason. The novel is fabulously written and deals with a theme that is dominant in and unites Western and Indian culture: cultural identity. The literary magazine Szirine, which I co-founded together with Charlene Caprio and James Shivers, deals extensively with the importance of culture in a world where individuals are increasingly separated from their traditional ethnical bounds. The diffusion of cultural identity and the transformation from a closed society to an open society, from societies where individuals depent on the community to societies where communities depend on individuals, is not only creating new dreams and hopes but also confrontations with old values that need to be overcome in order to succesfully integrate in modern times.
Desai’s antagonists deal not only with the diffusions of our time, but also with the diffusion of history and the present, with regional, national and internation identities, with the diffusion of classes, and with inidividual and social identities. Although the plot of The Inheritance of Loss is thin, the diversity of the characters is close to realistic.
“This way of leaving your family for work had condemned them over several generations to have their hearts always in other places, their minds thinking about people elsewhere […]” Continue reading