Customer Reviews for

The Inheritance of Loss

Average Rating 3
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

You people don't get it

Good writing isn't beginning middle and end. A novel doesn't need a clear plot to be excellent. You see, there are things in the business called 'literary devices.' Some of these are things like irony, symbolism, personification, things like that. The 'proper' use of th...
Good writing isn't beginning middle and end. A novel doesn't need a clear plot to be excellent. You see, there are things in the business called 'literary devices.' Some of these are things like irony, symbolism, personification, things like that. The 'proper' use of these transcends the simple writing that rubes like you people seem to enjoy and turns a text into a well of meaning. If you aren't too inept to notice, you'll find that Desai's novel is loaded with themes dealing with the effects of post-colonialism on the third world. She does a very elegant job portraying these themes, especially through the relationships she creates between characters. Overall it was a good read 'in every sense of the word'.

posted by Anonymous on March 18, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Poorly executed writing and Morally Offensive

Was it not Orhan Pamuk that said that an author who has not experienced poverty should not attempt to write about it? Kiran Desai has violated this maxim and her elitist attitude and class status are clearly evident.

"The Inheritance of Loss" is virtually an unread...
Was it not Orhan Pamuk that said that an author who has not experienced poverty should not attempt to write about it? Kiran Desai has violated this maxim and her elitist attitude and class status are clearly evident.

"The Inheritance of Loss" is virtually an unreadable novel for several reasons. However, before I go into these, and another commenter calls me and other "negative" commenters "rubes," I should state that I have been studying and reading literature for thirty years and am a civil rights attorney.

Ms. Desai's novel fails in several areas: characterization, dialogue, grammar, sentence construction, flow of the prose, and moral obligation to the subjects.

Every character in this novel has the same voice and interior monologue. All the voices are juvenile at best and immature at worst despite the age of the character. (e.g., p. 3, during the judge's interior monologue, he thinks, "Never ever was the tea . . ." May I ask, which adult male uses the term "Never ever" verbally or in his own mind? Similarly, the cook thinks in his interior monologue on page 10. "They had guns now, which they might clean of rust, fill with bullets, and . . . shoot!" A grown man with average intelligence would not think in such childlike terms.)

Further, you do not "know" the characters since each of them appear to be the same in tone, thoughts and personality. Unlike, perhaps, the deep and vivid characters in Jhumpa Lahiri's work, Desai's characters are flat, sterotypical and robotic.

Ms. Desai's use of dialogue is unrealistic and stilted as well. If you read her dialogue out loud with another person, you will realize that people do not talk in that manner.

Grammatically, Ms. Desai's book is rife with a plethora of errors that read to a person like fingernails scratching down the literary blackboard of the soul. The novel reads like an exotic Sophie Kinsella novel. She overuses adverbs and adjectives in a superfluous manner. She uses the same word redundantly in the sentence. (e.g., p. 8, the word "hanging" is used twice in one sentence.) Perhaps, she could make use of a thesaurus. Virtually on every page, she misuses dependent clauses such that actions occur simultaneously, which could not happen at the same time. There is a more creative way to design similes and metaphors than by always using the word "as." This writing distracts from the flow of a novel.

The most egregious part of Ms. Desai's book is that it humiliates and debases people of poverty, people not of her socio-economic class and caste. She presents all the impoverished characters as though they were weak, powerless, unintelligent and prideless. Apparently, Ms. Desai has had very few negative and/or real life experiences and has lived in a privileged bubble as shown by her insensitivity in the text. (e.g., page 6 when describing the cook: "His lines had been honed over centuries, passed down through generations, for poor people needed certain lines; the script was always the same, and they had no option but to beg for mercy. The cook knew instinctively how to cry." This is insulting and degrading. Also, on page 11, she writes "He was a powerless man, barely enough learning to read and write, had worked like a donkey all his life...."

Perhaps, she should listen to her dear friend Orhan Pamuk.

posted by Lagniappe_Literature on April 22, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2007

    I Put This One Down

    I am an AVID reader and HATE not finishing a book, but I just could not get through this one. I am usually eager to read and find out what happens next, but picking up this book was painful each time and I decided to just give up. If you like books that discuss political issues this might be for you, but I prefer great characters that you learn to love/hate/empathize with etc. and I did not find that in The Inheritance of Loss.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    If You Like Wading, Jump Right In.

    I really wish I had read the reviews before buying this book. I can't believed it received such acclaim. The author clearly has style--her narration is chock-full of little spot-on anecdotes--but her character and plot development are nonexistent. I have felt more connected to cartoon characters. Maybe I just didn't get it, missed the point, but by the time I was halfway through, I hated the book so much that I didn't care anymore about the fact that it was over my head. I will never again purchase a book based solely on its receipt of the National Book Critics Circle Award or the Man Booker Prize.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    hard to follow

    I love historical novels, but the history here wasn't presented clearly, and the characters and story were boring. Only Biju came alive for me - I wish there'd been more about him. The other characters and their backgrounds (each representing some social or political group, to drive home the historical points), all became a blur. I enjoyed learning more about the upheaval/conflicts in India at that time, but it was a long, slow read, and the melodrama at the end felt contrived.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Disappointment!

    Like another reviewer, I was excited to read this book, with all of the awards and great reviews. It was very nicely written indeed, but was lacking in any kind of story that could be followed and enjoyed. I struggled to finish, and really didn't want to. I thought I would be rewarded at the end, but was not. In a word: BO-RING.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2007

    A real disappointment

    I was really excited to read this book because it's an award winner and had such good reviews. I was so disappointed. The book seemed to go nowhere. There was no real plot or story. I agree with the other reviewer, I also hate not finishing a book but I just couldn't continue reading this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    i had high expectations for this book since it received such great reviews, but it was so confusing and incomplete that i abandoned it after the first 100 pgs (thats saying quite a lot - i almost never give up on a book). im sure some people enjoyed it, which is okay, but if you're not really in to books that don't seem to have a point until very late in the story, i wouldn't pick this one up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was extremely boring. So boring in fact, and so disappointing, that I took the time to write a review. I am an avid reader, and I could not wait to get to the end just so I could be rid of it! While some of the story was interesting, it wasn't enough of a story to suggest it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2007

    the booker - why???

    I am addicted to reading and this book took me a month to finish!!! But I was compelled to read it to the end - after all, I reasoned, there had to be something in the book that merited the man booker prize. And there was nothing. Admitted there are flashes of good writing in spurts but the story does not hold together. The characters never come alive. The book needed an editor. In short I would have never read the book if 1. It had not won the Man Booker prize There are such good writers and then this wins a prize!!! Must be frustrating for writers like Rohinton Mistry!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2007

    Do not waste your time and money on this book.

    I thought there must be something interesting in the story, but beleive me it is real boring. Yes she has woven the words well, but that is just it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2007

    Boring

    I had high expectations for this book, but I found it boring and the writing pretentious.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2007

    A reviewer

    The jacket reviews were raving. The book began wiht pages of raving reviews. I should have stopped trusting jacket reviews long ago. I chose the book to catch a glimpse of a different culture, which I did, and it was one of despair, truly 'an inheritance of loss.' The jacket synopsis mentioned a story of joy and despair. If there was joy, I missed it. The author succeeds in portraying a crumbling country out of control, as well as the humiliating experience of illegal immigrants in this country. However, she left strands of the story hanging everywhere, and the ending is merely an ending. I can handle a despairing story, but give me a story, not glimpses of a story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2007

    Tough Reading!

    I was very disappointed with this book as it came highly recommended. I found Desai's writing style extremely hard to get into. I was able to get her major points despite the annoying incomplete sentences. I found her main themes compelling however, it was a very unenjoyable read.

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    Posted December 12, 2008

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    Posted October 5, 2009

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    Posted July 11, 2010

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    Posted May 28, 2010

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    Posted July 16, 2009

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    Posted June 9, 2009

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