Her prize-winning work is her second novel, and it reflects her own international background. Born in India, she splits her time between New York and New Delhi, and she comes from a mixed Indian/German background as well. Oddly enough, the winning novel, The Inheritance of Loss, shifts its setting between New York and India. How often have you been told to write what you know? It must be handy to know something out of the ordinary when you sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper.
Pundits have noted that Kiran, the daughter of a novelist, lacks her mother's light touch. They have also mentioned the fact that Kiran's mammy, writer Anita Desai, was shortlisted for the Booker three times but never won. In a way, this prize is partly due to Anita's talent, beyond the obvious genetic contribution. Even Kiran had to mention how much she owed her mother's help.
"It was written in her company and in her wisdom and kindness," the overwhelmed author said. "I really owe her this book so enormously."
In fact, some reviewers suggest that Kiran and Anita both write about the cultural tensions of mixed ethnicity, a source of conflict that has shaped both of their lives. What Kiran does in her work is to expand beyond the human element and drift off into political polemic, and the folks who hand out Booker prizes seem to like that sort of mixture. Perhaps that was where mother Anita went wrong - writing about the human element and blowing off the evils of politics, especially American politics and policies.
Take that, Mother Dearest. Your little girl got the prize on her first go, and you came up empty three times. Even so, Kiran would not be the writer that she is now if not for her mother's talent and influence. The student is supposed to exceed the reach of the master, or the learning process has come up short.