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The Inheritance of Loss is the second novel by Indian author Kiran Desai. It was first published in It won a number of awards, including the Man Booker. The Inheritance of Loss book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanc. Natasha Walter immerses herself in the bleak but compelling world of Kiran Desai's impressive new novel, The Inheritance of Loss.

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The Inheritance of Loss [Kiran Desai] on aracer.mobi *FREE* shipping on Sold by: "THE BOOK TREASURY" - Daily Shipping from Nashville, TN! Add to Cart. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard and the Man Booker Prize winning novel, The Inheritance of Loss. Educated in. The Inheritance of Loss is Kiran Desai's extraordinary Man Booker Book Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, was.

This impressive novel, longlisted for the Man Booker prize, produces a strange effect. It is a big novel that stretches from India to New York; an ambitious novel that reaches into the lives of the middle class and the very poor; an exuberantly written novel that mixes colloquial and more literary styles; and yet it communicates nothing so much as how impossible it is to live a big, ambitious, exuberant life. Everything about it dramatises the fact that although we live in this mixed-up, messy, globalised world, for many people the dominant response is fear of change, based on a deep desire for security. A young Indian girl, Sai, lives with her grandfather, a retired judge, in a damp and crumbling house. Sai has started a relationship with her Nepalese maths tutor, Gyan. But, unknown to her, Gyan has become seduced by a group of Nepalese insurgents, some of whom are, as the book opens, marching to Sai's house to steal food, Pond's Cold Cream, Grand Marnier, and her grandfather's old rifles. This incident makes up the first, grim chapter of the book. There is something about Desai's description that touches on humour, and yet it is much too painful to be funny. Even the judge's dog is wrong-footed in the encounter: He might kill the witness. After setting the scene with a moment of such high drama, Desai shows how the lives of Gyan and Sai and her grandfather, along with their cook and his son, intertwine before and after this horrible turning point. She casts her net wide, and scenes in which the cook's son, Biju, tries to make a life in the US are paralleled by the judge's experience studying in England in the s. In both situations, we see a young Indian man setting off full of idealism about the cultural and material opportunities of the west, only to find himself ground down by the reality of being a second-class citizen. So we hear about the judge as a young man, alienated by the coldness of Cambridge society.

Here, at the back, inside the cavernous kitchen, was the cook, trying to light the damp wood. He fingered the kindling gingerly for fear of the community of scorpions living, loving, reproducing in the pile. Eventually the fire caught and he placed his kettle on top, as battered, as encrusted as something dug up by an archeological team, and waited for it to boil.

The walls were singed and sodden, garlic hung by muddy stems from the charred beams, thickets of soot clumped batlike upon the ceiling. Up through the chimney and out, the smoke mingled with the mist that was gathering speed, sweeping in thicker and thicker, obscuring things in parts—half a hill, then the other half. The trees turned into silhouettes, loomed forth, were submerged again.

Gradually the vapor replaced everything with itself, solid objects with shadow, and nothing remained that did not seem molded from or inspired by it. She shut the magazine and walked out into the garden. The forest was old and thick at the edge of the lawn; the bamboo thickets rose thirty feet into the gloom; the trees were moss-slung giants, bunioned and misshapen, tentacled with the roots of orchids.

The caress of the mist through her hair seemed human, and when she held her fingers out, the vapor took them gently into its mouth. She thought of Gyan, the mathematics tutor, who should have arrived an hour ago with his algebra book. When she looked back, the house was gone; when she climbed the steps back to the veranda, the garden vanished. The judge had fallen asleep and gravity acting upon the slack muscles, pulling on the line of his mouth, dragging on his cheeks, showed Sai exactly what he would look like if he were dead.

The gray had permeated inside, as well, settling on the silverware, nosing the corners, turning the mirror in the passageway to cloud. Sai, walking to the kitchen, caught a glimpse of herself being smothered and reached forward to imprint her lips upon the surface, a perfectly formed film star kiss.

No human had ever seen an adult giant squid alive, and though they had eyes as big as apples to scope the dark of the ocean, theirs was a solitude so profound they might never encounter another of their tribe. The melancholy of this situation washed over Sai. Could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss? Romantically she decided that love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love was the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself.

If not for Biju. His father could not remember or understand or pronounce the names, and Biju changed jobs so often, like a fugitive on the run—no papers. Seeing Sai swim forth, spoons making a jittery music upon the warped sheet of tin, Mutt raised her head. He looked, then, at the sugar in the pot: The biscuits looked like cardboard and there were dark finger marks on the white of the saucers. Never ever was the tea served the way it should be, but he demanded at least a cake or scones, macaroons or cheese straws.

Something sweet and something salty. This was a travesty and it undid the very concept of teatime. Is that the way to run a business? The fool. All these old cooks can make cakes perfectly fine by building coals around a tin box. You think they used to have gas stoves, kerosene stoves, before? Just too lazy now. The cook came hurrying out with the leftover chocolate pudding warmed on the fire in a frying pan, and the judge ate the lovely brown puddle and gradually his face took on an expression of grudging pudding contentment.

They sipped and ate, all of existence passed over by nonexistence, the gate leading nowhere, and they watched the tea spill copious ribbony curls of vapor, watched their breath join the mist slowly twisting and turning, twisting and turning. Nobody noticed the boys creeping across the grass, not even Mutt, until they were practically up the steps.

They had come through the forest on foot, in leather jackets from the Kathmandu black market, khaki pants, bandanas—universal guerilla fashion.

One of the boys carried a gun. Later reports accused China, Pakistan, and Nepal, but in this part of the world, as in any other, there were enough weapons floating around for an impoverished movement with a ragtag army. They were looking for anything they could find—kukri sickles, axes, kitchen knives, spades, any kind of firearm. Despite their mission and their clothes, they were unconvincing.

The oldest of them looked under twenty, and at one yelp from Mutt, they screamed like a bunch of schoolgirls, retreated down the steps to cower behind the bushes blurred by mist. My God!

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Mutt began to do what she always did when she met strangers: Hating to see her degrade herself thus, the judge reached for her, whereupon she buried her nose in his arms. The boys came back up the steps, embarrassed, and the judge became conscious of the fact that this embarrassment was dangerous for had the boys projected unwavering confidence, they might have been less inclined to flex their muscles. They laughed a movie laugh, and then, also as if in a movie, the boy with the rifle pointed his gun at Mutt.

The judge sat with Mutt in his lap. The guns dated from his days in the Indian Civil Service. A BSA five-shot barrel pump gun, a. Is this how you treat guests? Sending us back out into the cold with nothing to warm us up.

Of course, all the boys were familiar with movie scenes where hero and heroine, befeathered in cosy winterwear, drank tea served in silver tea sets by polished servants. Then the mist would roll in, just as it did in reality, and they sang and danced, playing peekaboo in a nice resort hotel. This was classic cinema set in Kulu-Manali or, in preterrorist days, Kashmir, before gunmen came bounding out of the mist and a new kind of film had to be made.

His lines had been honed over centuries, passed down through generations, for poor people needed certain lines; the script was always the same, and they had no option but to beg for mercy. The cook knew instinctively how to cry. These familiar lines allowed the boys to ease still further into their role, which he had handed to them like a gift. Here, your sahib will help you. You should show this kind side to your guests, also.

Go on, prepare the table. The judge found himself in the kitchen where he had never been, not once, Mutt wobbling about his toes, Sai and the cook too scared to look, averting their gaze. It came to them that they might all die with the judge in the kitchen; the world was upside down and absolutely anything could happen. What kind of sahib? Make something, then. Think we can continue on empty stomachs? Wailing and pleading for his life, the cook fried pakoras, batter hitting the hot oil, this sound of violence seeming an appropriate accompaniment to the situation.

The judge fumbled for a tablecloth in a drawer stuffed with yellowed curtains, sheets, and rags. Sai, her hands shaking, stewed tea in a pan and strained it, although she had no idea how to properly make tea this way, the Indian way. She only knew the English way. The boys carried out a survey of the house with some interest.

The atmosphere, they noted, was of intense solitude. A few bits of rickety furniture overlaid with a termite cuneiform stood isolated in the shadows along with some cheap metal-tube folding chairs. Their noses wrinkled from the gamy mouse stench of a small place, although the ceiling had the reach of a public monument and the rooms were spacious in the old manner of wealth, windows placed for snow views.

They peered at a certificate issued by Cambridge University that had almost vanished into an overlay of brown stains blooming upon walls that had swelled with moisture and billowed forth like sails.

The door had been closed forever on a storeroom where the floor had caved in. The storeroom supplies and what seemed like an unreasonable number of emptied tuna-fish cans, had been piled on a broken Ping-Pong table in the kitchen, and only a corner of the kitchen was being used, since it was meant originally for the slaving minions, not the one leftover servant.

They dipped the Marie and Delite biscuits in the tea, drew up the hot liquid noisily. One of them assured Sai: The judge fetched the key hidden behind the National Geographics that, as a young man, visualizing a different kind of life, he had taken to a shop to have bound in leather with the years in gold lettering. They opened the cabinet and found bottles of Grand Marnier, amontillado sherry, and Talisker.

There were none. This angered them, and although there was no water in the tanks, they defecated in the toilets and left them stinking. Then they were ready to go.

Chuckling, the boys stepped off the veranda and out into the fog carrying the two trunks. One was painted with white letters on the black tin that read: Mistry, St. Mutt tried to respond despite the fear that still inhabited her eyes, and she tried to wag her tail, although it kept folding back between her legs.

The cook broke into a loud lament: He himself sat bolt upright, his expression clenched to prevent its distortion, tightly clasping the arms of the chair to restrict a violent trembling, and although he knew he was trying to stop a motion that was inside him, it felt as if it were the world shaking with a ravaging force he was trying to hold himself against. On the dining table was the tablecloth he had spread out, white with a design of grape-vines interrupted by a garnet stain where, many years ago, he had spilled a glass of port while trying to throw it at his wife for chewing in a way that disgusted him.

No shame. Both Sai and the cook had averted their gaze from the judge and his humiliation, and even now their glances avoided the tablecloth and took the longer way across the room, for if the cloth were acknowledged, there was no telling how he might punish them. It was an awful thing, the downing of a proud man. He might kill the witness. The cook drew the curtains; their vulnerability seemed highlighted by the glass and they appeared to be hanging exposed in the forest and the night, with the forest and the night hanging their dark shaggy cloaks upon them.

Mutt saw her reflection before the cloth was drawn, mistook it for a jackal, and jumped. Then she turned, saw her shadow on the wall, and jumped once more. It was February of Sai was seventeen, and her romance with Gyan the mathematics tutor was not even a year old. In Delhi, a technology fair on cow dung gas stoves was being attended by delegates from all over the world. In Kalimpong, high in the northeastern Himalayas where they lived—the retired judge and his cook, Sai, and Mutt—there was a report of new dissatisfaction in the hills, gathering insurgency, men and guns.

It was the Indian-Nepalese this time, fed up with being treated like the minority in a place where they were the majority.

They wanted their own country, or at least their own state, in which to manage their own affairs. Here, where India blurred into Bhutan and Sikkim, and the army did pull-ups and push-ups, maintaining their tanks with khaki paint in case the Chinese grew hungry for more territory than Tibet, it had always been a messy map.

The papers sounded resigned. A great amount of warring, betraying, bartering had occurred; between Nepal, England, Tibet, India, Sikkim, Bhutan; Darjeeling stolen from here, Kalimpong plucked from there—despite, ah, despite the mist charging down like a dragon, dissolving, undoing, making ridiculous the drawing of borders.

Given what you know of Borges, why do you think Kiran Desai chose his work as an epigraph? Discuss this observation. Could this be a description of the novel itself?

Discuss the terms globalization and colonialism. What does it mean to introduce an element of the West into a country that is not of the West, a person from a poor nation into a wealthy one? What are examples of this in the novel?

Discuss them in political and economic terms. How are Noni and Lola stand-ins for the middle class the world over?

The Inheritance of Loss

See page Why did the judge lead such a solitary life in England? The judge returned to India a changed man. He loathed Indians. Discuss the effect that the prejudice and rejection he experienced in England had on the judge for the rest of his life. Compare and contrast the two men. Who was the optimist? How did Bose help the judge when they were in England? When they met again, thirty-three years later, Bose had changed. Say it louder. Chuckling, the boys stepped off the veranda and out into the fog carrying the two trunks.

Mistry, St. Mutt tried to respond despite the fear that still inhabited her eyes, and she tried to wag her tail, although it kept folding back between her legs. He himself sat bolt upright, his expression clenched to prevent its distortion, tightly clasping the arms of the chair to restrict a violent trembling, and although he knew he was trying to stop a motion that was inside him, it felt as if it were the world shaking with a ravaging force he was trying to hold himself against.

On the dining table was the tablecloth he had spread out, white with a design of grape-vines interrupted by a garnet stain where, many years ago, he had spilled a glass of port while trying to throw it at his wife for chewing in a way that disgusted him.

No shame. It was an awful thing, the downing of a proud man. He might kill the witness. The cook drew the curtains; their vulnerability seemed highlighted by the glass and they appeared to be hanging exposed in the forest and the night, with the forest and the night hanging their dark shaggy cloaks upon them. Mutt saw her reflection before the cloth was drawn, mistook it for a jackal, and jumped.

Then she turned, saw her shadow on the wall, and jumped once more. It was February of Sai was seventeen, and her romance with Gyan the mathematics tutor was not even a year old. When the newspapers next got through the road blocks, they read: In Bombay a band named Hell No was going to perform at the Hyatt International.

In Delhi, a technology fair on cow dung gas stoves was being attended by delegates from all over the world. In Kalimpong, high in the northeastern Himalayas where they lived—the retired judge and his cook, Sai, and Mutt—there was a report of new dissatisfaction in the hills, gathering insurgency, men and guns. It was the Indian-Nepalese this time, fed up with being treated like the minority in a place where they were the majority. They wanted their own country, or at least their own state, in which to manage their own affairs.

Here, where India blurred into Bhutan and Sikkim, and the army did pull-ups and push-ups, maintaining their tanks with khaki paint in case the Chinese grew hungry for more territory than Tibet, it had always been a messy map. The papers sounded resigned. A great amount of warring, betraying, bartering had occurred; between Nepal, England, Tibet, India, Sikkim, Bhutan; Darjeeling stolen from here, Kalimpong plucked from there—despite, ah, despite the mist charging down like a dragon, dissolving, undoing, making ridiculous the drawing of borders.

Given what you know of Borges, why do you think Kiran Desai chose his work as an epigraph? Discuss this observation.

Could this be a description of the novel itself? Discuss the terms globalization and colonialism. What does it mean to introduce an element of the West into a country that is not of the West, a person from a poor nation into a wealthy one? What are examples of this in the novel? Discuss them in political and economic terms. How are Noni and Lola stand-ins for the middle class the world over?

See page Why did the judge lead such a solitary life in England? The judge returned to India a changed man. He loathed Indians. Discuss the effect that the prejudice and rejection he experienced in England had on the judge for the rest of his life.

Compare and contrast the two men. Who was the optimist? How did Bose help the judge when they were in England? When they met again, thirty-three years later, Bose had changed. Why did he want to see the judge again? Nimi attended a political rally unknowingly. Who took her to the rally? Explain why the judge was enraged at this. After independence, he found himself on the wrong side of history.

What was happening politically in India at this time? What was the Congress Party? Did the judge ever have any tender feelings for his wife? Why and how did her family pay for him to go to school in England?

What finally happened to Nimi? What did the judge choose to believe about it? The cook treated Sai like a daughter. Discuss their relationship. Why were they in the Soviet Union? How does their journey to and years in another country parallel the stories of Biju and the judge?

The Inheritance of Loss

What advice did Noni give Sai? How do their homes illustrate the differences between them? Compare Gyan and the judge.

Both were the chosen sons of the family; much was sacrificed for their success and much expected of them. Do you think they would raise their sons the way they had been raised?

Wounded by the West

Why does the judge not work in his own province once he returns to India? What are the different types of immigration that take place in the novel?

What does all this immigration mean? Was Gyan a strong person? Gyan was not totally convinced at the rally. Explain his reasons. What did Gyan think about his father? The next day Gyan went to Cho Oyu. What had changed? He returned to the canteen after leaving Cho Oyu.

Discuss his reasons for betraying Sai. Discuss why Gyan rejected Sai. Discuss the unrest, betrayals, and eventual violence that separate Gyan and Sai.

How are their troubles, and those of the cook, the judge, Father Booty, and Lola and Noni, related to problems of statehood and old hatreds that will not die? How do the earlier immigrants treat him? How do the class differences in India translate into class differences in the United States, where there were supposed to be none? Why is he so successful, and Biju is not? Most of the examples of Americans and other tourists in India are extremely unflattering pp. Most of the Indians in America are also not impressive, such as the students to whom Biju delivers food pp.

How do they judge themselves? How does Biju judge them? How did the cook get his job with the judge? Did the cook accept his position in society? Why did the cook embellish the stories he told about the judge? Why did the cook want his son, Biju, to go to America? How did he feel about the possibility that he might never see his father again? Why did Biju return to India?

Describe how he felt when he stepped out of the airport. Did Sai mature or change over the months of both personal and political turmoil? Explain what she means by this statement.

Will Sai leave Cho Oyu? The cook is not referred to by name until the next to last page of the novel. Newsletters, offers and promotions delivered straight to your inbox.