Prize winner out of India
When a book wins a major and prestigious literary prize, it gets a lot of attention and attracts readers. That has certainly been true for The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (daughter of another well know author, Anita Desai). See this site for an interview with the young writer and what the prize has meant to her.
If the prize and the publicity draw you to the book, here is what you will find: a beautifully written story of rather grim life in the northeast corner of India, at the foot of the Himalayas, and the story of a young man who goes to New York City to work in restaurants. The book is set in the eighties, during the time when the Nepalese were beginning their fight for freedom and it does a good job of portraying their messy and often brutal rebellion. It is a story of families, friendship, relationships, and of the impact of the British colonization of India.
This is the story of Jembuhai and his grandaughter Sai, as well as of their cook and an assortment of neighbors. Jembuhai was sent to England to study as a young man and then returned to India and worked as a judge. He has retired to this remote part of the country and inherited a granddaughter, after her parents die. His closest relationship is with his dog.
Jembuhai's story can be compared to that of the cook's son, Biju, who has a rather squalid life as an illegal immigrant working in New York restaurants. He is taken advantage of repeatedly and is at the mercy of the restaurant owners because of his status.
There are many other subplots and interesting characters in this book. It is a great choice for a book group, since it is very discussable, and will generate many strong opinions.