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Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle, Fiction, 2007
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.
©2006 Kiran Desai; (P)2007 Isis Publishing Ltd
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Critic Reviews

"Kiran Desai is a terrific writer. This book richly fulfils the promise of her first." (Salman Rushdie)
"An insightful and often humorous commentary on multiculturalism and post-colonial society." (Guardian)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Elanjelian on 01-14-10

A Stirring Novel

The story resonated well with me, with my own experience growing up in small town Malaysia. It aptly captures the ambivalence of identity, the rage and the hope, and pretenses, that we, too, at newly independent Malaysia felt (and, in a way, continue to feel) and exhibited.

The narration of Tania Rodrigues was excellent, although it took me a while getting used to her pauses between sentences. Some familiarity with Kalimpong, its surrounds and the insurgency of the 1980's will enhance the listening pleasure.

Bottom-line: a highly intelligent and engaging post-colonial novel.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Mr David Newton on 11-09-07

When will something happen?

This turgid account is written with beautiful prose which drew me in. Unfortunately nothing actually happened. The story circles endlessly round as the characters experience repeatedly the diappointment of their small lives being affected by the grand sweep of local, national and global influences.
Every 50 minutes or so it seemed as if something was about to happen which could constitute a storyline, but within minutes it vanaished and we moved scene and/or time and the story was gone.
Beautiful to hear but like candy floss - lacking in substance.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Suswati on 01-15-17

The tragic consequences of colonialism and class

Kiran Desai's vivid writing of the northern mountainous regions of Kalimpong was well captured in this desperate novel of the aftermath of British colonialism and the caste system in India.

The events are quite accurate as my own family who resided there during this time can substantiate. The violence that ensued the nation following independence was one of many tragic consequences of a country attempting to repair itself after massive divisions were sown.

At the same time, the experiences of an immigrant abroad is a good reflection of how imperialism allowed people to make the journey while still being treated as a second class citizen.

The story itself surrounding a small community of elites in the northern regions is interesting as many of them attempt to face their own demons and find an identity. The reading was fantastic, as it is difficult to do a genuine Indian accent without sounding like a bad comedy. Poignant, quite long, and well written.

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