Contemporary

The Inheritance of Loss

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? (And by all means, discuss everything, if you are reading more than one thing!)

It’s funny how reading habits can change so drastically. I used to be a book hoarder, compulsively reading three, five, seven books at a time. Devourer, reading early in the morning, on the train, during lectures, before bed. Now I’m a slow reader: one book at a time, a few snippets – just pages here and there when I have a spare moment to myself. Maybe it’s because of lifestyle changes, maybe it’s because I’ve (dare I say it?)  fallen out of love with literature.

I’ve become so lax in maintaining this blog anyway. It’s died, I don’t even know if I have any readers left. But I think I’ll keep posting anyway, now and then. Simply because I feel like it, every so often (i.e. once every four months). Also, out of the blue, felt like answering a Booking Through Thursday question – which is something I haven’t done (literally) in years. This week’s question is nice and simple, real easy to answer. Didn’t have to give it much thought at all.

Currently, I’m reading Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, which I thought won the 2006 Booker Prize quite undeservedly – the first time I read it. This book didn’t make much of an impression on me when I read it three years ago. I thought the language was pretentious, over-wrought, horridly self-conscious. Without substance. Trying too much to be like Arundhati Roy in The God of Small Things. That’s what I thought the first time round anyway.

Yet I couldn’t deny that the book was very evocative. The images Desai wove into my mind stayed with me all these years. And one afternoon I just had the sudden urge to read it again; to give it another go. So I did. Right now I’m about 3/4 of my way through it, and I am enjoying it. Not madly in love, but I do have some respect for Desai now. To be honest, I was a little biased in my thinking the first time I read The Inheritance of Loss because I knew her mother was the renowned Anita Desai.

At first I felt like this gave Kiran Desai an unfair advantage over other writers; I positively envied her her childhood, her experiences, the things she must have been taught by her mother, even just by absorbing her environment. But now I see that far from simply giving Desai a stepping stone into the world of literature (and the freaking Booker prize, damnit), it’s a beautiful tradition, in a way. Passing down that love of books and writing and literature to the next generation through your daughter. And that’s what Anita Desai has done.

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4 thoughts on “The Inheritance of Loss

  1. adevotedreader says:

    Hi Thusday, was glad to see a post from you pop up in my RSS reader and as a slack blogger myself understand how the urge to blog is intermittent. I’ve avoided The Inheritance of Loss as it sounded overwrought to me, but can wholeheartedly recommend Anita Desai.

    • Hi, devotedreader! I’ve actually read one of Anita Desai’s books – The Village by the Sea – and I liked it quite a lot. I feel, on the whole, that Anita Desai’s writing is more powerful and less manufactured than her daughter’s. Feels somewhat like the difference between home-made and mass-produced…

  2. Tuesday! So glad to see you back! My feed reader died about a month ago and I had to manually re-enter all of my sites… I overlooked yours but was thinking about you and realized my error. Lo and behold, you’re back!

    I tried reading this a few months ago and I just wasn’t jiving with it. It felt disposable to me, like it was trying to purposefully shock or something… I don’t know, it just wasn’t doing it for me, and I put it down after 100 pages or so. If you didn’t like it the first time you read it, why in the world have you picked it up a second time?

    • Steph!!!! Still not reading as much, and still don’t have the motivation to write here as regularly as I used to, but I do miss hearing from you guyyyyyys.

      I don’t know. Usually, if I don’t like a book the first time I’ll never go back to it, but I randomly had the urge to re-read it. And I don’t really regret it either – wasn’t the worst book I’ve read. I agree with you though; it was rather try-hardish. Too deliberately ‘postmodern’, whatever that’s meant to mean.

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