Friday, July 27, 2007

The inheritance of loss-what I liked and what I didn't like.

Quotable quote from the book: "Love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love is the ache, the anticipation the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself."

What I did not like:

The use of defecation and things related to it for almost 4 to 5 times in the novel. I don't know what kind of pleasure the author was getting out of it. Is there a disease of this sort?

The language. Considering that it is an award winning novel, I expected to experience some stylistic joy of memorable prose. Her mom seems to be better on this front.

What I liked: The story, which she carries with authorial omniscience. The parts about the insurgency somewhat sounds like home though it is based in some other place.

Well, the story is about a retired lawyer basking in his past glory, his westernised grand- daughter Sai and her love interest with a poverty-striken local, their complications in negotiating their love for each other and opposing political principles and the judge's cook. If they are hapless, unwilling witnesses to the identity struggle in the hills between the immigrants and the settlers on one side, the cook's son Biju on the other side, goes to the US chasing the great American dream and eks out a miserable existence as an undocumented worker, stumbling from one low-paid restaurant to another. Desai captures his particular brand of bewilderment and loneliness with a rare empathy.

The full sense of the story comes only in the end but Desai does not give any easy answers to the problems. The story is quite poignant in some ways and her observations are quite cynical.

It is very much a readable book but I liked Rohinton Mistry(A fine balance) much better than her.

13 comments:

AmitL said...

Hi,Arunima..Whew..you do some deep reading,for sure.

AmitL said...

Tks for a nice review.BTW,how's the IQ Tests going??

Arunima said...

not yet happned, and I am busy reading novels rather than preparing. :-)

annie said...

Now we know what kept you busy..I liked the Love quote though.From your review sounds like worth a read..

Rashi said...

nice one !

got in here thru annie, shall drop in more, cya

chandni said...

I didn't think much of the book....

and Rohinton Mistry we can't even compare...he's remarkable!!

But u r right abt the quotes...that's actually the only reason I don't dislike the book!

The Lass said...

"Love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love is the ache, the anticipation the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself."

These lines..are very very deep...and do ring true to me!

and yeah, her mum, Anita Desai,had repeatedly used 'phlegm' (like defecation) in one short story.Along with the writing style, kiran has also inherited this from her mother :D

tanuj said...

I didn't really like the sudden shift between the immigrants life and the life at hill.

Aqua said...

i don't think this book deserved to get her the booker prize. it wasn't a patch on say...arundhati roy's booker winning book.

kiran desai's book is a good read for sure, but she sure has aggravated a lot of people in kalimpong for her portrayals of nepalis in the book.
i didn't like her portrayal of tibetans also.
btw i believe her aunt who lives in kalimpong has disowned her after this book was released.

sanguine said...

i kinda liked it .

and btw , loved ur last post . :)

Arunima said...

@aqua: if that is so, serves her right. Some of the insurgents looks like those in my home town though.

Deepika said...

The quotes were one of the few things the book was worth reading..nice review of the book though.

austere said...

When do you find the time? Envy the books you've read through.