Inheritance of Loss: A True Portrait of Misconceptions

Our this week’s book review is on “Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai - the literary masterpiece even after years of publication holds the potential for individual transformation contrary to what people think.

Inheritance of Loss - A True Portrait of Misconceptions

Who could ever forget the character of “Judge” who through the revival of his own past marked the onset of the past glory of the Indian literature which was diminishing in the heap of regularly published books? Will the Judge find desperate peace which he had been longing for, the classic clearly indicated that at least the longing of Indian readers have been fulfilled. This masterpiece named “Inheritance of Loss” got instant recognition in the form of its worldwide sale and was also the recipient of the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2006. The masterpiece which was a page-turner till the end got endless recognition from various international writing stalwarts like Salman Rushdie and the media like “The New York Times” and “The Sunday Express”. To create such a sensational literary piece was an amalgamation of the various facades of our life which is normally cornered in Indian literature. This was only under the capability of the one and only master of crafted story-telling “Kiran Desai”.

The Tryst of Tradition

We are proud residents of India where traditions are more valued than human life. The traditions which are part of our culture allows no “Nakhre” as we are destined and expected to follow. No matter how we feel, Receptive or non-receptive! In the same way as the intruders rebuked Sai for just asking for tea as we have the tradition of entertaining guests as ‘God.’ Even our own habit which we declare traditional in the mask of being modern, as the Judge rebukes the cook for not bringing the soup before the main course. Sometimes traditions  which are not exactly traditions but a token of love by those who loves us the most gets distorted. One could analyze Mr. Jemmubhai Patel; who Jemu’s mother finds unable to estimate the imbalance between the finality of good-bye and briefness of the last moment.  How a young mind finds the unadulterated love of parents a symptom of senseless traditions which has gauged perfectly by the abandonment of “Choorva.” Given by his mother and reluctant to throw the coconut in the sea offered by his father. Young minds are naturally mobile in nature but how does it justify to claim yourself modern by discarding the tradition in the hope of achieving something which is beyond your near and dear ones reach. At the same time it makes us feel foolish when we are dutifully bound to follow a self-made tradition.  This is shown by the loss of essence as Sai even after her parents’ death tries to cry but in vain after the boring exercise of letter-writing.

The Glamouring Dazzle

Even though most people claim they love surprises; its’ an utmost fact that they do not welcome any surprises which does not bring happy news. Even after the novel was published in the post 1980s it’s not a surprise that we feel quite attracted towards the dazzling glamour of the west. Almost each and every character has a fantasy about the west. There is no wrong in fantasizing of glitz and glamour but at what cost? The “Judge” Jemmubhai Patel even after returning to his home country finds reluctance in the mannerism of his native country. Biju in search of a Green Card torments himself restaurant to restaurant in America so that he can settle in a foreign country forever. Sai being an inhabitant of Moscow finds a fascination for India and doesn’t hesitate to be in an immoral relationship with her tutor Gyan. Even Lola in her utmost fascination to the west declares India as a sinking ship. Gyan himself a college student in the hope of the dazzles of the current revolution disembarks Sai from such a colossal relationship and dumps her. Even the Gorkha consider themselves as revolutionaries who want a separate Gorkhaland. They want a separate land for themselves with the help of an armed rebellion.

Wielding Own Weaknesses

Its’ human psychology that we try to wield our own weakness at the cost of another person’s emotions. We try to hide our own weakness which is not wrong but there is a dire need to crosscheck our actions which is directly or indirectly attached to other people. The “Judge” being an epitome of injustice always wonders about justice in the messy world. He makes his life a mess through his own weakness. The emotional weakness of the judge compels him to find detachment from his own parents. The absence of extra skills among the fiery competition in university propels him to study hard. His own weakness which he covers through constant anger on his wife leaves him in deep agony. He regrets losing the essence of a pious husband-wife relationship years after sitting in his verandah. Has the time gone back? The disobedience of his daughter affects his behavior towards Sai; his grand-daughter and the aristocratic mannerism find the absence of utmost respect from his cook. Not only the Judge is a victim of his own fallacy but almost every character is prone to fallacies. Biju unable to find a companion in a distant land whistles to his lady Indian customers resulting in trouble in his job. The cook unable to make a career owing to his old age puts undue pressure on his son which makes his life a living hell. Even the insurgents who unable to find any possible solution heeds toward rebellions and loots the common masses in the name of revolution. Even Gyan himself swayed in the emotional weakness of revolution tips about the presence of arms in his so-called beloved house Cho Oyu.


The masterpiece not only created waves through its unique subject back in the day but even today holds the potential for the complete personal transformation of an individual. The day is not far when “We will be no longer relevant to each other’s lives except for the hope that we would be relevant”.