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Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2007
At the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered old judge who wants nothing more than to retire in peace. But this is far from easy with the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter Sai, come to live with him and his chatty cook. Biju, the cook's son, is trying to make his way in the US, flitting between a succession of grubby kitchen jobs to stay one step ahead of the immigration services.
Unbeknown to any of them, a Nepalese insurgency threatens Kalimpong, impacting Sai's blossoming romance, and causing the judge to revisit his past and his role in this grasping world of conflicting desires.
"Desai imaginatively dramatizes the wonders and tragedies of Himalayan life and, by extension, the fragility of peace and elusiveness of justice, albeit with her own powerful blend of tenderness and wit." (Booklist)
"In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a 'better life', when one person's wealth means another's poverty." (Publishers Weekly)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Bob on 06-08-07
Gorgeous prose but grim
While the writing is rich and often wonderful, the grim world view of Desai's tale weighs on the listener. There is much to ponder on the despairing gap between the haves and the have nots, and the view of the immigrant's life is searing and unforgettable.
But in listening, some of the beauty and complexity of the written word is lost, despite the talents of the narrator, who grew on me. What a crippled and woe-be-gone cast of characters, and what a sad and harsh hand they are dealt. Biju's helpless tumble is almost unbearable. Desai tosses us one crumb of hope at the end but I was numb at that point.
37 of 39 people found this review helpful
By Thomas on 08-06-07
Inheritance of Loss
Five stars for the book and five stars for the reader. The book is one of the best works of fiction I've listened to in a long time. The reader contributes much to giving the listener the feeling of being there by her use of a different accent for each character.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful