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Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

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Apr. 8th, 2009 | 11:53 am

Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

I remember this one being reviewed as a book that genuinely deserved its Booker prize - you know, rather than the hyped-up tripe that can so often get it. Sadly, no. The dreamy and descriptive style, very arch and whimsical, never alters or gathers pace over the 300+ pages, and what was, at the start, absorbing, is ultimately dreary. It's as if Desai is holding at arm's length the genuine issues with which the book is concerned (the paralyzing effects of colonialism, the new griefs of globalization). But it has a distancing effect and, in the end, the only character that I truly cared about was the old man's dog. It's possible that this was the writer manipulating me (the same way that you're forced to hold your hands up and admit you care more about the poor wee kitten than the nasty junkie in Trainspotting), but I don't think there was enough writerly craft going on, so I'm simply forced to admit that I'm a bad person.

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Comments {3}

John Hall

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from: jhall1
date: Apr. 8th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)

I must confess to never having read a novel that's won the Booker Prize. I suspect that I haven't missed too much. However, I would like to read "Last Orders" by Graham Swift, which won in 1996, because the film made of it was so very good.

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from: altariel
date: Apr. 8th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)

I quite liked Last Orders. The best Booker winners I've read are Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (a novel about India focusing on the lives of a set of children all born at the moment of independence) and AS Byatt's Possession (a modern-day romance between an academic and a grad student echoes the romance of the Victorian writers they are studying). I also liked Keri Hulme's beautiful book about New Zealand, The Bone People. I'm getting very picky these day.

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