October 12, 2006 3:51am CST
Kiran Desai won the inheritance of her novelist mother Anita’s loss by scooping up the world’s most prestigious literary award, the 50,000-pound prize money for the Booker, the prospect of soaring global book sales and a passport to the most glittering place of them all — the galaxy of Indian literary star chroniclers of cultural confusion and hybrid hyphenated immigrant identity. Desai’s second novel, The Inheritance of loss, was announced as the clear, ‘‘unanimous’’ choice of the Booker Prize judges at a black-tie dinner on Tuesday night. The morning after, in a moving tribute to her mother, a quietly exuberant Desai told TOI that her stories ‘‘overlapped’’ with Anita’s, ‘‘but it’s quite natural, we are from the same family’’. Right till the end, Desai had been rated a rank outsider and fifth to win on the six-name Booker shortlist. The extraordinary achievement makes the 35-year-old Desai the youngest woman ever to win the Booker, a distinction previously enjoyed by Arundhati Roy. It also threw into sharp relief the pathos of Anita Desai’s repeated inability to win the prize despite being shortlisted thrice. In a remarkable act of literary filial devotion, Desai began the task of turning her mother into almost a joint Booker winner even as she accepted the award in an understated short black dress and a simple bead necklace.