some novels are clearly linear, with the plot(s) and characters moving in certain directions, toward certain ends. others are not. there is movement, but not toward a certain end. without making any judgments on which novels are better (in any sense of the word), i will definitely say that i am more comfortable with those that are linear. i like the idea of characters moving towards something, preferably a better something. cyclical stories are so much more painful, as characters go through agony without a happy ending. without that ultimate sense of good prevailing.
this is clearly my take on life: everything works out for the better. but what if it doesn't? kiran desai's inheritance of loss is one such novel, where things in fact do not work out happily at the end. in fact, i could say things are worse at the end than at the beginning (this is obviously debatable). her ending reminded me vividly of the end of rohinton mistry's a fine balance. i have no idea whether it is a coincidence that both of these books are about india, by indian authors..
regardless, desai's novel was great. it was funny, sad and so real that i started feeling i was an immigrant myself. her writing and imagery was quirky: "Cheese and chocolate they wanted, but also to kick all these bloody foreign things out. A wild daring love to bicycle them into the sky, but also a rice and dal love blessed by the unexciting things of everyday". the ending made me uncomfortable though. straightforward sadness or pain is easier to deal with, but this discomfort is unsettling. more so if i start wondering whether life too is cyclical..