Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Thoughts: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Well, why not make it short?
Usually I enjoy books set in India but I couldn't really enjoy this book.

BECAUSE although there is a bunch of characters each carrying a story, for me, I couldn't care enough about them to mind their fates.
Only I cannot get rid of the feeling that I should have cared about them. There is the retired grumpy old judge, Jemubhai Patel, who studied in a Victorian England, groomed by the Raj, all of which made him rise above his humble roots, to become a sour, lonely man. Then there is Sai, his orphaned grand daughter, exiled by the convent to be home schooled by the delightful Bengali sisters Noni and Lola. Sai is about to discover the first pangs of love, with her Nepalese tutor Gyan. And there is Biju, the cook's son, who is an illegal immigrant in New York, trying hard to make a better life, learning the hard way that a handful of American dollars is not worth as much in one country as in the other.

All of Desai's characters carry some kind of 'colonial baggage', like the judge who likes to deny his roots by eating his Naan (Indian bread) with fork and knife.

And still I cannot decide whether the writing style pretends to be exquisite and ethnic or really is exquisite and ethnic, all like the characters who should be lovable but are not quite as much.

Nonetheless I think the perspective Desai tries to share is worth having read the book. Because I would never know what it is like to live in a country with a post-colonial trauma or about immigrating and carrying the baggage to a foreign country with all hopes of the people I left on me. All that I can do is to read about it.

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