First off the winner - Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss. You have to know that I was so prepared to fall in love with this book. I fawned over it in bookshops, re-read the back a million times, looked up reviews on the internet and drooled over the cover art. I scoffed at negative comments on the Booker Prize forums (yes, I know - nerd), certain that those people just didn't understand/had no taste/were clearly stupid. I was so excited when I got it - so certain was I that this would be my new favourite book of all time - to be read and reread and recommended. I couldn't wait for it to suddenly "break(s) out into extraordinary beauty" like the Times review on the back cover promised.
What I'm really trying to establish here is just how high my expectations of The Inheritance of Loss were - so you can understand just how massive my disappointment was when I read this book.
There are a number of reasons why this book just didn't live up to the hype- but for me the most important one was the characters. Basically, Desai failed to make me care about them. I think this has a lot to do with the way she structured the story. There are four main characters - A retired judge, his orphaned grand-daughter Sai , the judges cook/servant man and the cook's son Biju. The Judge, Sai and the cook all live together in
Desai's much applauded 'poetic language' also failed to grab me. There are some nice lines, interesting images, but overall she lacks the verbal inventiveness of authors like Proux and Ondaatje. I found many of her sentances hard to follow, and would often get bored by an image halfway through her description of it.
Mainly, Desai seems to struggle with the scale of the book, as though she couldn't decide if it should be a tale of Indians in