Tuesday 13 November 2007

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Someone warned me not long ago to avoid books that had won the Booker Prize. Apparently, research had proven that past winners really aren't actually very good books. It seems the books are over indulgent cerebral rubbish that try too hard to impress. They typically end up on book shelves half read.

I have to agree. And it would have been easy to put this book on the shelf half read.

But then I would have missed the part of the book that was actually worth reading.

I have a philosophy that says "Finish the book you started." A bit similar to "Go home with the one who brung ya." Ok, not really but I like that saying that! One is good manners. You figure out which.

I figure you've started a book because something compelled you start it. The description of the plot on the back cover (although we have seen previously how misleading that can be), or a recommendation of a friend, or the cover art, or a review by a so-called "literary critic".

This book I finished purely because it was the book group selection for November. Now it is true that I would not have chosen this book and I honestly would have preferred to read others from my pile. but I've made a commitment to the book group to show up and discuss the book. to do this I have to have read it.

I would have liked to have discussed this book in depth. I think it would have understanding to my understanding of the book. Reading the recommended questions opened by eyes to a couple themes which I think I missed entirely mostly because I wasn't liking the book very much until I got to the second half. By that time, I had forgotten everything I had read in the first half.

To make matters worse only 2 of us in the group actually read the book so discussion was futile.

I think the book was about class and how class is imposed differently in every culture. The book focused on England, India, and America. But I think you could examine class in just about every culture and see some common themes.

The book also raised some interesting points about globalisation, westernisation, and immigration. I just am not sure what those points are - although I do imagine them to do interesting if I could ever bottom them out.

I struggled with so many characters. I still can't figure out the relevance of Noni and Lola although I can guess they are representatives of the middle class. But I don't think their position in the story actually emphasised how powerful (or not) the middle class are in all the the relevant societies.

Verdict: Give it a miss.

Book Group: With several of the group absent and only 2 completing the book, it's hard to say what the book group thought. Not much, I guess!

NEXT BOOK: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I am really looking forward to this!


Janell said...

I thought it was probably time for another book review! Thanks for the tip. I absolutely LOVED "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," though some of it made me so very sad. You have inspired me to check it out and read it again.
I have a question for you: Emily was in a Lit class that studied the Beats & Hippies literature and she ended up withdrawing because the stories themselves were making her crazy. I tried to read the Jack Kerouac "On the Road" novel and couldn't finish it. Didn't even feel compelled to force myself to finish it. Were we missing something there?

Janell said...

No comment here from anyone? Myrna, I thought sure you'd have something to say.