Friday, February 23, 2007

Inheritance of Loss: Loss of time and money

By John Cheeran
Tastes of individuals vary. Even making such allowances I should say I found Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, winner of the Man Booker Prize for 2006, a highly enervating novel.
I regret having spent Rs 400 for this book, which Desai took seven years to put together. She should have done something better.
It is an utterly feminine novel, an effort that goes nowhere, does not tackle anything but novelist’s own misplaced concerns. (Even the heroine Sai has been created from Kiran’s surname, Desai, so much for her creativity!)
No wonder none reads this book or even buys this book if one goes by the best seller’s list in New York Times and Los Angeles Times. What impact, then, the book has created by winning the Booker Prize.
The stature of Booker Prize itself has been highly over-rated.
Why do we want to pick up a novel, for that matter why do we want to read?
Not only we are looking to be engaged and entertained on the pages but wants to be enriched by new experiences that author hit us with.
Kiran has only succeeded in presenting a few disjointed scenes from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and New York. She is only watching from a distance even when Kalimpong is shaken and stirred by GNLF. Kiran had an opportunity to get under the skin of Gyan, a faltering revolutionary, but she fails in that task abjectly.
I find her broken sentences jarring; a pale imitation of Arundhati Roy, her predecessor in the Booker hunt.
It is a pity that Pankaj Mishara and Salman Rushdies have heaped praise on Kiran. It only shoes how insincere these members of the writers’ guild are when it comes to expressing their literary opinions.
Mishra had written in The New York Times that Desai’s novel “manages to explore , with intimacy and insight, just about every contemporary international issue: globalization, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist violence.”
Really? Mishra makes me recall that classic example of a great newspaper report.
The duchess exclaimed. I’m pregnant. Who did it?
These three lines have royalty, sex and intrigue in it, ingredients to arrest reader’s attention.
The reviews and blurbs only betray the fact Kiran had researched over the seven years on current affairs and had rolled up this dough, unleavened by wit, vision or imagination. Unfortunately good research does not lead to a good novel.
Reviewers such as Rushdie and Mishra are members of the writers' guild and to expect a honest opinion about a fellow writer would be foolish of us. It's time we began to learn to trust our thoughts rather than be imprisoned by the hollow words of Rushdie and Mishra.
My inheritance has been the loss of time and money by making that harrowing effort to finish reading The Inheritance of Loss.
Meanwhile I note with interest that Penguin Books has mentioned that Kiran’s first book, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was critically acclaimed. Well, critically acclaimed is the euphemism for the fact none read it apart from reviewers, who were paid to go through it.
And the redeeming fact is that it will take another seven years for Kiran Desai to assault us with her next offering. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the writing style, but i found the overall plot lacking in any substance. I'm left feeling "so what?" Perhaps I need time to digest the brilliance that Mishra and Rushdie saw in it. You haven't been specific about what you disliked about it... what was it exactly?

johncheeran said...

Thanks for your comments.
Yes, I share ur point of lack of substance in plot.
Well, I'm not impressed by her style either. Desai circles throughout, without going anywhere. Has she telling us anything new? Are there any fleshed out characters but cardboard cutouts?
I have slightly updated my post, may be u will have a second look.
regards and thanks

John Cheeran at Blogged