Book review: The inheritance of loss by Anita Desai

December 22, 2007

The inheritance of loss is the story of an orphaned teenage girl, Sai, who stays with her eccentric grandfather at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga. The other main characters in the book include their cook and his son Biju.

The life of each character is told through a series of flashbacks. Their lives highlight issues like racism, colonialism, illegal-immigration, etc. For example, Sai’s grandfather is a victim of his own sense of racial inferiority and the cook’s son is an illegal immigrant in the USA.

The novel lacks a substantial plot. Instead it has all the usual components of an NRI novel – orphaned child, inter-racial marriages, green-card obsession, etc. The only thing that makes it better than your average NRI novel is Anita Desai’s beautiful prose.

Anita is an extremely gifted writer. I hope she moves away from overworked NRI themes and uses her talent in other genres like biographies or short stories. Mark my words, we will see great things from her.


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