Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss and the Troubled Symbolic Production of a Man Booker Prize Winner

  • Daniel Allington


Kiran Desai’s second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, was published by Penguin subsidiaries in India and North America in January 2006, and seven months later in the UK by Hamish Hamilton, a Penguin imprint. That same year, it won the Man Booker Prize, the UK’s most prestigious literary award, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award, one of the three most prestigious literary prizes in the USA. However, the book also became subject to protests in the Indian town in which it was partly set. These events provide an ideal opportunity for scholars to do what Sarah Brouillette argues they have too rarely done, and examine ‘the specific interconnections between the content of literary work and the circuits through which texts pass as they are produced and consumed’.1 In this chapter, I shall therefore focus on selected episodes from the novel’s production and reception in order to provide a rich picture of its place in the global cultural economy, and to attempt to understand the complex and conflicted position into which a literary novel positioned as ‘Indian’ must enter if it is to be accepted by the readers for whom such novels are, to use Pierre Bourdieu’s phrase, ‘objectively destined’.2


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© Daniel Allington 2014

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  • Daniel Allington

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