Kiran Desai won the Man Booker Prize for her novel The Inheritance of Loss. She’s 35 – the youngest writer ever to win, but youngish-ness is what you have after eliminating David Mitchell and Peter Carey. The Indian-born writer’s mother, Anita Desai, had been shortlisted three times but failed to win. Now we’ve seen examples of judges privileging certain books because an author’s last shortlisted book failed to receive the prize, but not so often have we seen generational debt repayment – they didn’t give it to her Mom, so she might as well receive it. But perhaps I’m being overly callous – I haven’t even read the book. Ah well. For those of you curious of her style, here’s a short excerpt:
Sai, sitting on the veranda, was reading an article about giant squid in an old National Geographic. Every now and then she looked up at Kanchenjunga, observed its wizard phosphorescence with a shiver. The judge sat at the far corner with his chessboard, playing against himself. Stuffed under his chair where she felt safe was Mutt the dog, snoring gently in her sleep. A single bald lightbulb dangled on a wire above. It was cold, but inside the house, it was still colder, the dark, the freeze, contained by stone walls several feet deep.