The post - independence Indian English fiction has seen quite a large crop of new and interesting writers. Their works are firmly based on social realism. Writers like Bhavani Bhattacharya, Manohar Malgonkar and Khushwant Singh appeared on the scene in the fifties of the last century. Quite a number of women novelists also emerged. Jhabvala, Kamala Markandaya, Nayantara Sahgal and Anitha Desai are notable among them. This development has continued ever since and one can discover many new voices. The most striking among them is Kiran Desai. Her second sweeping novel, The Inheritance of Loss won the world's most prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2006. The daughter has won where the mother could not succeed.


            The Inheritance of Loss is much more ambitious than Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard in its spatial breadth and emotional depth. It takes on huge subjects such as morality and justice, globalisation, racial, social and economic inequality, immigration and alienation, fundamentalism and multiculturalism. Here the author illuminates the pain of exile and the ambiguities of post- colonialism. It is a narrative about the anxiety of being a foreigner. It seems that Kiran continued along the contours marked by her mother. But she is perhaps more interested in social and political upheavals. She apparently sees everything from an Indian perspective. The backdrop of the novel is the Gorkha movement for self rule in Darjeeling area. It seems that Kiran Desai is more interested in the people affected by the movement than the movement itself. So it is a poignant story of the common people. She offers an indictment of a capitalist system that has managed to crush the national and the racial identity. She is critical to the Western culture and practices. The theme of loss is explored in this novel. The judge has lost his place in India, Sai has lost her parents and her young love and Biju has lost his identity. In short, The Inheritance of Loss tells a story of love, family, and loss.


Kiran Desai is a born story-teller. Her The Inheritance of Loss is set in the town of Kalimpong in Northeast India, close to the Nepal border. The time is the mid 1980's. Its story revolves around the effects on the lives of inhabitants of the locality due to Nepalese uprising. The theme of loss is explored in this novel. The central character, Jemubhai is a retired judge. He lives in Kalimpong with his cook and dog. His orphaned granddaughter, Sai, joins him. Her arrival sets the judge down memory lane.  There is the question of Sai's education. She finds Gyan as mathematics tutor and falls in love with him. In the mean time anti- colonialism movement starts. The blossoming romance between Sai and Gyan is threatened by conflict. Gyan becomes involved with revolutionaries. Gyan reports to his friends that the judge has two rifles in his house and one night they come and rob the house and humiliates him and his cook. The story of the cook’s son Biju is running parallel. As an immigrant he is struggling in New York to realize the American Dream. Kiran Desai skillfully brings broad political themes right down to a personal level. The threat of violence looms large throughout the novel.


Kiran’s plot construction, colorful art of characterization and fantastic use of language are always appreciated. Her The Inheritance of Loss has wide range of characters. They are entwined neatly in a complex plot line. They are those for whom aloneness alone is the natural condition. Desai expertly injects doses of comedy and buffoon-like figures. Much of the comedy also arises from the Indian ness or over-use of the English language. The novel is powered by a superb language- assured and eloquent, supple and elegant. It is flowing, clear and visual. She is the mistress of devastating wit and charming style. She uses multiple question marks and exclamation marks throughout the text. Like Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, The Inheritance of Loss abounds in rich, sensual descriptions. To some extent her novels have autobiographical touch. In short, Kiran has the amazing capacity to breathe life into the page.


            Thus Kiran Desai is one of the greatest novelists of Indian Diaspora. She sets her novels in India. She apparently sees everything from an Indian perspective. Her contribution to the world of fiction is, no doubt, the subject of appreciation. Her achievement not only fetched fame and admiration for her but also to the whole of India. The Inheritance of Loss heralds Kiran Desai as one of our most insightful novelists.


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