Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Inheritance of Gain


No sooner had Kiran Desai bagged the Man Booker Prize for this year than a wave of cheer spread among the Indians, and I could almost hear the crack of another whiplash claiming another pound of flesh from the Raj. The empire had again struck back, after Naipaul, Rushdie and Roy. The periphery had again won over the centre.

Kiran's novel, The Inheritance of Loss, was I guess no body's favourite, definitely not of the bookies, and was a surprise entry into the short list, when works by far more established writers were thrown out. What was the idea this time? Some have already sounded caution, as Sharon notes in her blog: "... the current book prize and publishing markets increasingly treat novelists as promotable contenders with their first and second books, mature talents by their third, and possibly old hat, no longer fashionable or burnt out, with their fourth and subsequent titles." (John Ezard)

Surprisingly, when the novel had come out, it did not have many enthusiastic takers but with a hindsight, going by the reviews of the book by the likes of Pankaj Mishra in NYT, this book is really special.

As Kiran has acknowledged, she wrote this book in the company of her mother, so to speak, who has been nominated thrice for the same award in the past. It is an inheritance of gain for Kiran, if I can say so. Well done Kiran Desai!

2 comments:

bibliobibuli said...

who is the centre and who is the periphery these days, zafar? i think there has been a big reversal and many indian writers are the best of the best. the colonialists can hardly be surprised any more after rushdie.

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks for your comments Sharon. Your point is correct but there are people who still see it in the terms that I have talked about.