The UN Women/USNC Gulf Coast Book Club met on Monday, June 13,2016 to discuss The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. Desai won the Man Booker Prize in 2006, among many other awards. Her mother is Anita Desai, also an award-winning writer, who we read last year with great interest and pleasure. Kiran writes in an exquisite style laced with poetic metaphors, fraught with tensions among a kalediscope of characters who live near the Darjeeling Hills of northern India during the 1980s when a revolution exploded for the independence of Ghorkhaland for Nepalis in India. Far-reaching effects of colonialism mark the isolated grandfather judge, who learned self-loathing under the Raj, along with aunties of a certain age. The judge's grand-daughter, Sai, loses both scientist parents in Russia to a car accident, and finds a lonely refuge in his sprawling, decrepit home. The cook's son, Biju, finds only suffering in the dungeons of undocumented immigrants in America's cities, until he desperately returns to his father, losing everything along the way. Desai describes the myriad characters' lives as rather idyllic until history catches up with them and everyone feels the inheritance of their losses. In Desai's words:
This was how history moved, the slow build, the quick burn, and in an incoherence, the leaping both backward and forward, swallowing the young into old hate. The space between life and death, in the end, too small to measure.