Photo: Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff
In India’s far north— the core of her novel The Inheritance of Loss—Kiran Desai reflects on the beauty, violence, and spirituality of a misty Himalayan realm, where nature ultimately dwarfs all human concerns. The mountainside is so steep, the vegetation seems confounded: everything grows. Cactus, orchids, orange trees, rhododendron, oak. Higher, in the alpine reaches where rumors of the yeti and Loch Ness monster–like beasts live on, the gullibility of travelers is tested by yak herders attempting to sell shriveled ginseng root as a bit of a yeti arm, or the pelt of a Himalayan bear as yeti fur. Higher still, proffering an aching beauty that alters constantly with the light, is Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world, a plume of snow blown by dervish winds at its summit.
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