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Extended Audio Sample The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (22,851 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kiran Desai Narrator: Meera Simhan Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. Kiran Desai’s brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Desai’s assurance and energy keep the plot on track and bring her ambitious tale to a fittingly strong conclusion.”


  • “An astute observer of human nature and a delectably sensuous satirist…Perceptive and bewitching…Desai is superbly insightful in her rendering of compelling characters, and in her wisdom regarding the perverse dynamics of society…Incisively and imaginatively dramatizes the wonders and tragedies of Himalayan life and, by extension, the fragility of peace and elusiveness of justice, albeit with her own powerful blend of tenderness and wit.”

    Booklist (starred)

  • “With her second novel, Kiran Desai has written a sprawling and delicate book, like an ancient landscape glittering in the rain…Desai has a touch for alternating humor and impending tragedy that one associates with the greatest writers, and her prose is uncannily beautiful, a perfect balance of lyricism and plain speech.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Impressive…A big novel that stretches from India to New York; an ambitious novel that reaches into the lives of the middle class and the very poor; an exuberantly written novel that mixes colloquial and more literary styles; and yet it communicates nothing so much as how impossible it is to live a big, ambitious, exuberant life…Desai’s prose becomes marvelously flexible…Always pulsing with energy.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “An endearing view of globalization…The Inheritance of Loss is a book about tradition and modernity, the past and the future—and about the surprising ways both amusing and sorrowful, in which they all connect…A wide variety of readers should enjoy.”

    Independent (London)

  • “It’s a clash of civilizations, even empires…The idea of an old empire, the British one collides against the nouveaux riche American one. The story ricochets between the two worlds, held together by Desai’s sharp eyes and even sharper tongue…This is a…substantial meal, taking on heavier issues of land and belonging, home and exile, poverty and privilege, and love and the longing for it.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “[An] extraordinary new novel…lit by a moral intelligence at once fierce and tender.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Desai writes with assurance and lyricism about life in India, and her insights into how South Asia has been affected by America are fascinating and timely. This is an impressive, original novel from a welcome new voice in Indian fiction.”


  • “Desai’s strength lies in her ability to capture, with humor and grace, the nuanced complexities of the characters and their times…[A novel] that brings both caring and understanding.”

    Denver Post

  • “A finely textured story that mixes post-Raj dilemmas of modern India with the challenges of Indian immigrant life in New York.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Lush, multi-textured…The lyrical prose invites rumination and rereading.”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • “Shimmering with honesty and humanity…This novel is finely accomplished.”

    Seattle Times

  • “[Desai’s] is an incredibly unromantic vision, and seldom has an author offered so fearless a glimpse into how ordinary lives are caught up in the collision of modernity and cultural tradition.”


  • “Vast and vivid, full of tastes and smells, voices and accents, humor and fury. It is a captivating book.”

    Washington Times

  • “A meditative look at the conflicting bonds of love and duty.”


  • “In keeping with the confident touch displayed throughout this rich, beguiling tale, the final scene treats the heart to one last moment of wild, comic joy—even as it satisfies the head by refusing to relinquish the dark reality that is the life of the characters…It is a work full of color and comedy, even as it challenges all to face the same heart-wrenching questions that haunt the immigrant…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.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Desai’s Indian characters are exquisitely particular—funny but never quaint, full of foibles but never reduced by authorial condescension. Bittersweet, entertaining, and just shy of tragic, The Inheritance of Loss is surprisingly wise.”


  • “[An] exceptionally talented writer…She doesn’t falter…penning a book that is wise, insightful, and full of wonderfully compelling and conflicted characters…The Inheritance of Loss distinguishes her as a writer of note…A deft and often witty commentary on cultural issues…Abundant with illuminating detail and potent characters…With its razor insights and emotional scope The Inheritance of Loss amplifies a developing and formidable voice.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Stunning…In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism, and the blinding desire for a ‘better life’ when one person’s wealth means another’s poverty.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “One of the most impressive novels in English of the past year, and I predict you’ll read it…with your heart in your chest, inside the narrative, and the narrative inside you.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “If book reviews just cut to the chase, this one would simply read: This is a terrific novel! Read it!”

    Boston Globe

  • Winner of the 2006 Man Booker Prize
  • Winner of the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • The 2007 AudioFile Best Audiobook of the Year
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Fiction
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Hira | 2/20/2014

    " A masterpiece of a book - rich in its complexity, yet beautiful in the way it's woven. A slowly winding path that gives you a glance into the sleepy yet vibrant world of some very wonderful characters. This book will make you ache for family and loved ones, and stir your heart in unexpected ways! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Joan Colby | 2/12/2014

    " According to many reviewers on Amazon, this Booker Award winning novel was judged to be difficult and unreadable. I find it the opposite. While slow to get into, it swiftly becomes a compelling story with vivid characters that you care about. Set in modern day India, with a side story of an illegal immigrant in the U.S., the novel traces the fates of the judge, a retired Indian official who was educated in England and now lives in a decaying manse, his granddaughter Sai who is in love with a Gorka revolutionary who rejects her in the name of freedom fighting, the cook who works for the judge and whose son Biji has immigrated to American where he is an impoverished and exploited restaurant worker and several other minor charcters.The story is heartrending and also delineates Indian society revealingly, both the Anglicized upper clas and the overwhelming acres of the poor. Desai's writing is distinct and poetic and ravishing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Karen | 1/28/2014

    " Thought it was going to be better than it was. Well written but I just did not like any of the characters and I thought the storyline was a little predictable, not that I cared by the end! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Tassey | 1/24/2014

    " I liked this book, I think. I am a little ambivalent about it because it was confusing at times. It was also very depressing. It shed an extremely interesting light on colonialism and globalization and the different points of view definitely added an intriguing dynamic to the book. "

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