Kiran Desai’s 2006 novel The Inheritance of Loss explores interconnections between colonialism, nationalism, postcolonial conflicts, globalization, class-based exploitation, cosmopolitanism, migrancy, and diaspora. Critical responses to the novel reflect the limitations of attempting to classify it as a postcolonial, diasporic, or even transnational text because the narrative problematizes all such categories of identity. This article considers the usefulness and shortcomings of cosmopolitan approaches to The Inheritance of Loss in light of recent arguments that globalization is producing a new kind of fiction that may be better designated cosmopolitan than postcolonial because it moves beyond the cultural categories described in postcolonial theory while acknowledging inequalities of power. Although globalization is often viewed as a recent phenomenon, Paul Jay persuasively argues that it should be seen as a longer-term process that includes the “histories of imperialism, colonization, decolonization, and postcolonialism” (3). From this perspective, The Inheritance of Loss can be read as a critique of interrelated historical processes that, as its title suggests, generate a heritage of loss for each successive generation.


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pp. 25-43
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