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Inheritance of loss
Transcript of Inheritance of loss
"Kiran Desai." Gale Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Biography in Context. Web. 6 Mar. 2014.
Jordison, Sam. "Guardian Book Club: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai." Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 06 Nov. 2009. Web. 11 Mar. 2014
Vijh, Surekha. "Kiran Desai: icon of the new breed of writers." World and I Apr. 2008. Biography in Context. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.
Inheritance of loss
Story centered about Biju and Sai - Biju is the son of a cook who works for Sai's grandfather and illegally moved to the United States. Sai lives in the mountains of Kalimpong with her grandfather and dog.
The novel follows the journey of Biju a boy who is illegally living in the United States and is abused by his Indian boss. After dealing with home sickness and saving up enough money from his slave wages working at a kitchen in New York, Biju returns home to India.
The novel simultaneously follows the life of Sai
Sai lives with her grandfather (judge) who takes her in, in order to pay off her spiritual debts that he incurred from killing his wife, as well as shaming his father
The judge fights with his guilt throughout the book
Sai falls in love with her tutor (Gyan)
Their love was doomed from the beginning of the story since Sai is a well educated upper class Indian girl, and Gyan is lower class
The political situation worsens throughout the book and each character deals with it in their own way
1. Author: Albritton, Laura
Source: Harvard Review; 2007
Title: The Inheritance of Loss
> Laura believes that the novel is very popular even before it won an award
> Book is based around politics, which makes it more complex
>Desai describes scenes so vividly that the reader looses themselves because of the amazing detail
> The only fault in the novel would be the grandfather
"The more we learn of him the more we realize that he is a complicated, monstrous human being, capable of affection (toward a dog) and enormous sadism."
The novel does use substantial amounts of detail, which is why it is so popular. All the readers can picture exactly what is described, such as, "the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths" (chapter 1, page 1).
There is no problems with any character, except the grandfather. He is described as a crazy man that no one likes because he only cares for himself and his dog.
Biography of Kiran Desai
Born in India in 1971
Her mother wrote novels, short stories and poems throughout her childhood
Family lived in India until she was 14
Family moved to England for a year, then moved to the United States
Kiran completed undergraduate studies at the Bennington College
Enrolled in Columbia University, but soon dropped out to focus on writing
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
Desai described it as "messy"
The Inheritance of Loss
Received 2006 Man Booker Prize as well as the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award
Green Questions Answered
2. Does the Literary text portray assimilation, acculturation, or both?
Both. One could see the different aspects of assimilation with Biju in America and aspects of acculturation with Jemu in England. Biju is in New York, spending time working and living with other immigrants of different nationalities and talks with them. Jemu's "mind had begun to warp; he grew stranger to himself than he was to those around him" (40). Jemu stops being himself and forces himself to think and act English.
7. Is social cohesion ever achieved?
No, not entirely. Differences of race, religion, beliefs, and values are always going to be roadblocks in the way of social assimilation. For example, Biju spends years in New York, but still feels the pain of being an Indian immigrant in a strange setting. When he returns to India, he is robbed of everything . He states he is "without his pride. Back from America with far less than he'd ever had."(317)
Assimilation and Acculturation issues
Issues of Acculturation
During his time in the ICS, the judge takes a transformation from a poor Indian student to civilized Indian working for the English.
He takes it upon himself to be like the English while separating himself from his Indian roots.
As a consequence, he slowly loses personal characteristics such as language, customs, and self identity.
Nonetheless, he fails to escape from his identity due to his physical traits that define his character as he was unable to be recognized by the English as a member of their society.
Issues of Assimilation:
Saeed Saeed has adapted to life as a muslim in the U.S. leaving behind his home country of Zanzibar.
He strongly admires the west to the point where he does everything he can stay in the U.S.
He constantly advises Biju to avoid his family and culture back home thus implying that he has successfully assimilated his individuality to the American society.
Social Historical Context
Desai provides a vivid image of the Indian societal ambitions pertaining to the time period of the 1980s.
Both the educated and the uneducated aspire to migrate and make the transition from India to the developed westernized nation in order for personal financial gain.
Individuals attempts to escape the economic and political disintegration of their societies with the hope of achieving success in the west.
The author was educated in India, England, and the United States - Three nations that were significant mention in this novel to express conditions of social and economic downturns for various characters.
The imperialistic agenda from England towards India plays a significant role in asserting influence over its former colony in terms of their perceptions of themselves in comparison to developed nations such as the United States and England.
Gorkha National Liberation Front: Based on real movement in the 1980's. Political struggle within the region of India.
The rebellion occurs with the goal of to establishing new borders that will create peace however violence is a major tool that is used to create this peace.
Using the post-colonialism cultural studies approach one can conclude that Kiran Desai's "Inheritance of Loss" is greatly influenced by the postcolonialism theme. The novel takes place in a town called Kalimpong which is in the north westernmost part of India. As the story develops the characters perpetually struggle with the rigid class system and the problems that come along with these classes after colonialism. Postcolonialism themes are present throughout the novel and they "concern itself with diverse and numerous issues." (Cultural Studies,266) These diverse and numerous issues can be seen with the cultural problems present in Sai's and Biju's life. Sai and Biju face rigorous acculturation problems throughout the story and they can be traced back to the issues that post-colonialism brought. The cultural issues regarding cultural identity, assimilation and acculturation are present since the beginning of the novel and seem to never fade away because "once you start scratching, my dear, you cannot stop" (Ch39,p275) Using the post-colonialism approach one can see that the acculturation and assimilation issues present in the novel are evident in most characters.
Source: Kirkus Media
Title: The Inheritance of Loss
> Looks at cultural dislocation as experienced by an unhappy Indian menage.
"illuminate fractured lives in Kalimpong... past and present"
> Desai uses shifting techniques
>Even though Biju (the illegal immigrant) has many struggles, the author is able to find humor within it
" Less a compelling narrative than a rich stew of ironies and contradictions"
>They think Desai has a keen eye for ridiculous findings for novels
The novel is not a novel to love at first, it takes time to enjoy the novel. Once the details start to become rich and deep, the novel unravels itself . There are many details to pay attention to, along with all of the stories of the characters to keep up with. The flashbacks used to give more details are a main part of the book, "Sai wondered if he had loved his wife... she had died seventeen years ago slipping from a tree while gathering leaves to feed the goat" (chapter 2). It gives more background information about the characters.