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Kiran Desai Reads 'The Inheritance of Loss'

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Book Tour is a new Web feature and podcast. Each week we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Kiran Desai's tragicomic novel The Inheritance of Loss spans two continents and three generations. The story cuts between New York and India, contrasting the menial jobs and meager conditions of immigrant life in the city with the political unrest engulfing an isolated Himalayan hill town.

Fiction is a family business for Desai. Her mother, the novelist Anita Desai, was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times. But last year, it was the daughter who finally claimed Britain's most prestigious literary award. The judges hailed her novel as a "radiant, funny and moving family saga" and praised the writing for its "humane breadth and wisdom, comic tenderness and powerful political acuteness." At 35, Desai was the youngest woman ever to win. Seven years in the making, The Inheritance of Loss is her second book. Desai's first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, is also set in the Himalayas.

Like some of her characters, Desai has a foot in two countries. Raised in India, England, and the United States, she now divides her time between Brooklyn and New Delhi. But the influence on her writing is more one-sided. As she told The Guardian last year, "I realize that I see everything through the lens of being Indian."

This reading of The Inheritance of Loss took place in April of 2007 at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.

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Linda Kulman
Linda Kulman, the editor of’s weekly feature Book Tour, is an avid reader, veteran journalist and writer living in Washington, D.C. She worked as a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report for a decade, where she reported for every section of the magazine. Most recently, she covered religion and consumer culture. Kulman’s book reviews have appeared in The Washington Post and on She has collaborated on four non-fiction books, working with a variety of notable figures. Early on in her career, she worked for several years as a fact checker at The New Yorker. Kulman also earned a degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.