I just finished reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai when the phone rang. A friend of a friend of a friend offered to drive me around Beijing. As we cruised by Tiannamen Square in his black, leather-interiored, tinted windowed Nissan, with Neil Young wailing on the CD player, and the AC cranked to the max, this international businessman extolled the virtues of Chairman Mao, “He was a poet and a philosopher, not a politican. The people loved him. They still do. He should have stayed out of politics.”
Maybe. Who knows? The world might be a different place. But certainly no stranger than presnt-day China, or India, or any other part of the world that’s developing at a pace previously unimagined.
What’s the fall-out to this mad-cap pace? Only time will tell. But meanwhile, we are blessed with writers like Ms. Desai to help us put it all in perspective. We will discuss her latest novel at Thursday night’s meeting of The Artist’s Bookshelf.
To prepare for our discussion, please consider the following:
1) What is the significance of the title of this novel? What are some of its intended meanings or resonances?
2) The novel follows the intertwining personal journeys of several primary characters. Why did the author utilize this approach as opposed to the more conventional one central protagonist?
3) What observations does the novel provide regarding globalization and post-colonialism?
4) What is the significance of the dog named Mutt?
5) What does the novel have to say regarding social class?
6) The literary world has come to know and appreciate several major authors of the Indian diaspora. Yet, Kiran Desai distinguishes herself as the voice of a new generation. How does she achieve this?
7) What is the most poignant scene of the novel?
All of this and more! Thursday, Aug. 9th. Tour at 6 pm, discussion at 7 pm.
See you there.