Dangerous shame

While in New York we had the pleasure of meeting the young India-born novelist Kiran Desai. Later, when I read her 2006 Man Booker Prize novel, I was a little surprised that such a sweet, gentle-seeming person could imagine in such specific detail the violent emotions of internal colonialism (Indians exploiting other, poorer Indians) and class and racial humiliation, and how that humiliation can fuel violence. The subtlety of the psychological portraits, more than the lush (to my mind, overwrought) descriptions of the mountains and valleys at the foot of the Himalayas, are what make this book memorable.

Desai, Kiran. The Inheritance of Loss. New York: Grove Press, 2006. (Click on the title for my summary.)

Photo: Rock garden in Darjeeling, from Eastern Himalayan Tourism Foundation

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