Words in Boxes

Nouns, verbs, and occasionally adjectives.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thursday Excerpt: Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai won last year's Booker for The Inheritance of Loss, a book I excitedly bought when it first came out but walked away from underwhelmed, an opinion that appears to place me in the minority. Maybe my expectations were too high. If they were, it was because of her first book, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, which contained paragraphs like this:

It was a summer that sent the dizzy pulse of fever into the sky, in which even rules and laws that usually stood straight and purposeful grew limp, like plants exposed to the afternoon sun, and weak. The heat softened and spread the roads into sticky pools of pitch and melted the grease in the Brigadier's mustache so that it drooped and uncurled, casting shadows on his fine, crisp presence. It burned the Malhorta's daughter far too dark for a decent marriage and caused the water, if it came at all, to spurt, scalding, from the taps. The bees flew drunk on nectar that had turned alcoholic' the policemen slept all day in the banana grove; the local judge bribed an immigration official and left to join his brother in Copenhagen. Foreigners in their tour buses turned and went home, while Shahkotians argued for spots directly below their ceiling fans, leaving only for minutes if absolutely necessary and then hurrying back. In the marketplace, they raided the shops for palm leaf fans and bought gray blocks of ice that smoked like small fires. They rested their heads against the coolness of melons before cutting into them, held glasses against cheeks and foreheads between sips, fanned themselves at the stove with bunches of spinach before letting go reluctantly, for the sake of the evening meal.

When she's on her game, her sentences have an energy and scope that is hard to duplicate.

[Interview link via The Elegant Variation]

I'm James Sulak, a software developer in Houston, Texas.

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