September 3, 2007

Pocket Book Review # 10

The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai

A young woman, Sai, shares a ramshackle house in the Himalayas with her grandfather, his cook, and the cook's ragged dog. There, they are robbed by Maoist Nepalese rebels. In New York, the cook's son Biju shuttles from one humiliating restaurant job to another, until he returns to India with even less than when he left. Kiran Desai's novel makes a quiet mockery of colonialism, globalization, and what the world calls progress. It is also filled with wisdom, and sentences that are as perfect as anything English can offer up.

It's not long on plot -- its mission is to paint a portrait, and as Desai tied up the loose ends on the way to the finish I found myself wishing there had been a point on which the story took a hard turn. But it's still a timely, rich and beautiful novel.

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