The Inheritance of Loss Essay - Critical Essays

Kiran Desai

Literary Criticism and Significance

Kiran Desai, daughter of the novelist Anita Desai, wrote her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, in 1998. The work was praised and established her own voice in literary fiction. In 2006, she published The Inheritance of Loss, which was even more well received. Set in the 1980s, the novel is seen by some critics as a post-9/11 work, in that it explores contemporary international issues caused by globalization.

Desai's literary influences are V. S. Naipaul's novel A Bend in the River,which explores Africa's loss after its encounter with the West. Champa Bilwakesh compares Desai's Inheritance to Naipaul's Magic Seeds, in which the protagonist's sister says, “It is how imperialism works. It is what happens to captive people. And since in India we have no idea of history we quickly forget our past and always believe what we are told.” Bilwakesh elaborates:

The novel [The Inheritance of Loss] raises several large, important questions. What about the dividends from globalization?...At what point does colonialism become an excuse for corrupt government? Desai answers these questions in a quiet voice but not all answers are complete. They force the reader to think of the answers she does give for a long time.