Monday, 17 March 2014

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Back in Brussels and ready to bite into my still unfinished books. This review - as you who have followed me lately already know - will not be a positive one. Since I want to be positive I will start by showing you two photos from my garden with the first spring flowers! Sooo nice to see them.

 I have struggled with this book. Normally, I would just have let it go, but I read it for our book club and since all the others had read it and the discussion was good, I decided to read it (little by little). Maybe this is the problem. But the whole book is so depressing so it is not that you leave everything else to continue reading.  The lives of the characters are miserable and they are stuck. The story tells us about four-five characters from a small town/village in India close to the Nepalese border. I am not really sure of the time frame apart from some part in the latter chapters which refers to 1989. However, the story goes back and forth and not always in a straight back and forth way; that is; it is now, then it is then, then it is now and then it is then but before or after last time it was then!

The characters then. It is the judge who had the opportunity to study in England and got a high position within the law system. He married an Indian girl whose money made it possible to study. When he returned he had almost forgotten he had a wife and they did not match at all. He thought she was ignorant and she could not socialise with the other wives - mostly British as far as I could figure. Disaster. He sent his wife back to her family and there she gave birth to a daughter whom he never seemed to have a relationship with.  The daughter was a scientist and married another scientist and they got a daughter. They lived abroad and when the daughter Sei was big enough she was sent to a nunnery school in India. The parents died in an accident and Sei had to go and live with her grandfather the judge.

The cock has been with the judge as far as he can remember and Sei and him become good friends. He has managed to send his son to the US to work. Everybody thinks he has a dream life but his life there is nothing but misery. He can't get a green card and has to work illegally and are used by all employers. Misery wherever you look.

I think that the idea with the book is to show how difficult it is for people to live under occupation. Maybe especially as regards India. Some of the characters lived and worked with the British and when they are gone they belong nowhere. Their world is gone and now they have to live in a different life and nostalgically they continue to live for a lost world. The people who leave, like the cock's son, can't believe that he thought it was better somewhere else. He looks back on the life and the family connections at home with nostalgia. Wherever you turn and whatever you do it seems to be the wrong way. The title of the book is very good and says it all.

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