Kiran Desai wins the Booker.
From The Telegraph: Miss Desai spent eight years writing her book, The Inheritance of Loss, and becomes the youngest-ever woman at the age of 35 to win the award.
From The Independent: “To my mother, I owe a debt so profound and so great that this book feels as much hers as it does mine,” she said. “It was written… in her wisdom and kindness, in cold winters in her house when I was in pieces. I really owe her this book so enormously. A minute isn’t enough to convey it.”
But with extraordinary composure, she thanked all the other writers saying: ” I know the best book does not win. The compromise wins.”
Yet, any suggestion that it was a compromise choice was dismissed by Hermione Lee, the chair of the judges, who said there was “no ambiguity” unlike when she was a judge in 1981 when the comparatively unknown Salman Rushdie controversially beat DM Thomas’s The White Hotel with Midnight’s Children.
Links to previous reviews/ interviews:
Jai Arjun Singh’s interview with Kiran Desai, on Jabberwock:
She’s so fond of relating stories – about the rodent population in Harlem, for instance, which led to the formation of a “Neighbourhood Rat Committee” – that it’s no surprise when she promises not to dally as much over her next book (possibly a novel set in New York) as she did with this one. “It might make more sense,” she concedes with a laugh, “to spread the stories out over many books, and publish them more frequently!”
Pankaj Mishra’s review of Inheritance of Loss in the NYT:
What binds these seemingly disparate characters is a shared historical legacy and a common experience of impotence and humiliation. “Certain moves made long ago had produced all of them,” Desai writes, referring to centuries of subjection by the economic and cultural power of the West. But the beginnings of an apparently leveled field in a late-20th-century global economy serve merely to scratch those wounds rather than heal them.
The Hindu’s Mukund Padmanabhan interviewed Kiran Desai in Frankfurt, just before the Booker win:
I could have carried on [writing] forever if I didn’t want to make a novel out of it. It’s amazing to me when I write in this way … it’s so easy to exit the world. It’s quite shocking really. The door is open and you go. Writing can be a dangerous activity if you really let yourself go entirely. Mentally, it is a strange place to be in.
Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor:
All of the novel’s characters eventually come to share Sai’s suspicion that life is more often defined by loss than by fulfillment.
And yet, nothing sours the warm heart at the center of this novel. Desai is sometimes compared to Salman Rushdie, and the energy and fecundity of imagination in her works do make them somewhat akin to his. But the tenderness in her novels is all her own.
The Rediff interview, conducted by Lindsay Perreira:
I wrote all the Kalimpong bits in Kalimpong, staying in a house lent to me during the rainy season. It was very wild and beautiful, rain hammering down, mist and fog. I lived alone and learned both the hard and the beautiful way what it means to be a writer….
..I think there’s always a degree of loss in being an immigrant. It feels as if one will never be able to tell an entire story ever again. There’ll be an aspect of living half a life, having only half a story to tell. We tend to hope for a simplicity of truth, a wholeness which is rarely delivered us.
My book examines lives that are forced, because of circumstance, to be those of hypocrisy, of gaps and fears, or of truths that cannot be simply attained and added up into anything trustworthy. They conflict with other peoples’ ideas of things, or they belong to times past and stories that are lost or forgotten.
Aamer Hussein’s review, in The Independent:
Nationalism, migration, varieties of belonging: in her hugely ambitious second novel, Kiran Desai gives these grand themes an entirely new spin, unearthing their sources in earlier decades. Is it best to stay in a small place, “the sweet drabness of home”? If so, do we have a right to that territory, and who can stake a claim? These questions shape the destinies of Desai’s characters: “the most commonplace of them, those quite mismatched with the larger-than-life questions, caught up in the mythic battles of past and present, justice vs injustice – the most ordinary swept up in extraordinary hatred, because extraordinary hatred was, after all, a commonplace event.”
I’d done a brief review, way back in January, for India Today.
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