Friday, November 5, 2010
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
I have just finished reading Kiran Desai's second book - The Inheritance of Loss.
Set in India, it is the story of orphaned Sai, who is deposited on the doorstep of her grandfather. His cook is the one who cares for and nurtures her, although he is distracted by thoughts of his son in America. A violent political insurgency is set off, causing chaos and pain, and affects the characters - rich and poor alike - in unusual ways.
I have to say that although much prefer the author's first book, simply because the plot was lighter, this story had me riveted! She has a way of describing the cold, the wet, the smells, the darkness. I was completely sucked in to India. I absolutely love how the characters are so realistically self absorbed and how remarkable her observations are:
The insurgents: "The men sat unbedding on their rage, learning...that old hatreds are endlessly retrievable...they find the hate pure, purer than it could ever have been before because the grief of the past was gone. Just the fury remained..."
Proud mamas: "Perhaps England and America didn't know that they were in a fight to the death, but it was being fought on their behalf, anyway, by these two spirited widows of Kalimpong."
War: "But while the residents were shocked at the violence, they were often surprised by the mundaneness of it all...and found that it was possible, faced with the stench of unimaginable evil, for a human being to grow bored, yawn, be absorbed by the problem of a missing sock, by neighborly irritations, to feel hunger skipping like a little mouse inside a tummy..."
I will say, it does have quite a few moments that truly made me angry and sad, and I am a sucker for resolved happy endings. This doesn't end bad. It just ended. I would have like for an airplane to fall from the sky and give them everything they need for a happy ending and a "what-for" to those that deserved it. And for the pilots of said airplane to be okay....but it didn't end that way.
So basically, I probably won't read this again, but I did enjoy it very much. The descriptions and the narrative were definitely enjoyable and I really love her characters. All in all an excellent read. Once. ;)