The BBC's Book Club Presents

Mt. Pleasant Library

The BBC's Book Club Presents

Kiran Desai and "The Inheritance of Loss"

Photo of Kiran Desai with her book at the 2006 Man Booker Prize award ceremony.

The World Book Club's guest for January is Kiran Desai, whose second book The Inheritance of Loss won the 2006 Man Booker Prize. Set in the mid-1980s, the book focuses on the lives of a retired Indian judge, his orphaned granddaughter, their cook and the cook's son. The tranquility of their lives in Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, is deftly contrasted with the hectic pace of New York city, where the cook's son, an illegal immigrant, has escaped to work in the teeming kitchens of Manhattan.

Back in India, unrest flares up in Kalimpong when a band of Nepalese revolutionaries descend on the town, affecting everyone, and impacting the romance between the judge's granddaughter and her Nepalese tutor. The book addresses many issues, including cultural identity, modernization and class  in a style that is humorous, contemplative and moving.

Listen to Desai talk about her writing routine, explain why this novel is more personal than her first, and answer questions in front of a live audience in London.  If you enjoyed listening to this interview, you can check out the DC Public Library catalog for Kiran Desai's books.