Mauve Cabinets and a Bottle of Red

My two passions–Food and books

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai April 12, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 7:11 pm

In this post, I mentioned that I have a list of books that I did not finish. This is one of those books. I always hate it when I leave a book unfinished, but sometimes, there are some that I just can’t get all the way through, for one reason or another. Most often it is the lack of involvement in the characters. We have talked before about how vital it is for me to become immersed in the lives of the people in the story. In fact, there’s even a quote in this book that perfectly illustrates how I feel when I read a truly great book:

Books were making her restless. She was beginning to read, faster, more, until she was inside the narrative and the narrative inside her, the pages going by so fast, her heart in her chest–she couldn’t stop….She found they affected her so much she could often hardly read the accompanying words–the feeling they created was so exquisite, the desire so painful.

However, this book did not do that for me. The language of the book was distracting to me, for one thing. It was too flowery–maybe she should have written poetry instead of prose. The sentences on their own were beautiful, but did not allow me to flow through them easily. I would often have to stop and reread a paragraph because my mind would get so “tongue-tied” that by the end I would have absolutely no idea what I had just read.

Also–I think there was a big cultural block. Now, I try to go into each book with an open mind, but I think I don’t know enough about the ins and outs of Indian culture. Parts were interesting, but I just didn’t fall in love with it like I do some far away worlds. Because of that, I didn’t find myself relating to the characters very well. I liked Biju, and wanted him to succeed, and it was VERY interesting to see that side of the story. But, at the same time, it was difficult to feel an illegal immigrant as the good guy. Even for someone who isn’t so political, it just was frustrating to me to battle the morals that as a privileged, white, college educated female is supposed to feel, versus those that the narrator wanted me to feel. I don’t know if that even makes sense.

There were also so many stories going on. Usually I like this, because they all seem to intertwine. Even though they had things in common, I got increasingly frustrated with the lack of transition between the plots. That was actually what made me stop. By the time I quit, I was so confused about who was who and what was what that I had actually become really bored with the book. When a book is putting me to sleep at 8:30 on a Sunday night…that’s pretty bad.

All that said…if you like Indian culture, especially that with a lot of British mixed in, you may like this book. Maybe there is something that is lost in translation for me, I do not know. But for me, this goes on the Unfinished list. *shrugs* Maybe I’ll pick it up again someday. But for now, I have 1199 more books to choose from!


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