AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 8, Number 2 May 2024 Pp.145-154

Psychoanalytic Exploration of Identity and Loss in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss

Department of English Language and Translation
Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Email: batool.alkhodairy@gmail.com


This psychoanalytic exploration delves into the nuanced dimensions of identity and loss within Kiran Desai’s literary masterpiece, The Inheritance of Loss. By applying critical psychoanalytic concepts, this analysis navigates the novel’s characters’ intricate subconscious motivations and conflicts against cultural shifts and globalization. The study unveils profound psychological landscapes within the narrative by employing a methodology that combines close textual analysis with established psychoanalytic principles. The characters, such as Jemubhai and Biju, serve as focal points for exploring the depths of their internal struggles in response to external forces. Concepts like repression and symbolism become invaluable tools in deciphering layers of meaning embedded in the narrative, enriching our comprehension of their psyches. The Inheritance of Loss is a set of external events and a profound exploration of the human condition. Characters, shaped by their unconscious desires and conflicts, become mirrors reflecting the broader societal implications of cultural upheaval. The narrative becomes a testament to the intricacies of human existence amidst a rapidly changing world. This psychoanalytic analysis provides a key to unlocking the depths of Desai’s narrative, offering a richer interpretation of the novel’s characters and themes. By unraveling the psychological tapestry woven into the story, the study provides insights into the universal struggles of individuals facing the complexities of identity, loss, and cultural transformation. Through this exploration, The Inheritance of Loss transcends its narrative boundaries, inviting readers to contemplate the human psyche’s profound and often hidden dimensions.

Cite as:

Alkhodairy, B. F.  (2024). Psychoanalytic Exploration of Identity and Loss in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 8 (1) 145-154


Bhabha, H. K. (1994). The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.
Bhabha, Homi K. The location of culture. Routledge, 2012.
Bowlby, l. (2008). The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai: Critical Analysis. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 43(3), 145-163.
Bowlby, R. l. (2014). “Psychoanalysis and Literature”. In D. Hillman, & U. Maude (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Psychoanalysis (pp. 1-19). Oxford University Press.
Childers, J. W. (1998). Recent Studies in the Nineteenth Century. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 38(4), 761–825.
Das, Bijay K. Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Atlantic & Dist. Print, 2005.
Desai, K. (2006). The Inheritance of Loss. Grove Press.
Desai, K. (2007). The inheritance of loss. Open Road+ Grove/Atlantic.Freud, S. (1900). Psychoanalytic theory. Suicide from a psychological 7.
Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. Hogarth Press.
Freud, S. (1983). The interpretation of dreams. In Literature and Psychoanalysis (pp.29-33). Columbia University Press.
Hassan, W. (2019). Psychoanalytic Approaches to Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 2(5), 12-19
.Hassan, W. (2020). Psychoanalytic Exploration of Identity and Loss in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss. International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences, 5(3), 1-7.
Kumar Das, B.(2005). Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Atlantic & Dist.Lacan, J. (2007). Ecrits (B. Fink, Trans.). WW Norton.
Lacan, J. (2001). Ecrits: A selection. Routledge.
Mukherjee, A. (2004). Psychoanalysis and Postcolonial Literature. In N. Lazarus (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies (pp. 1-19). Cambridge University Press.
Mukherjee, A. (2011). Psychoanalytic Approaches to Postcolonial Literature: The Example of Salman Rushdie’s Shame. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 47(1), 92-103.
Oates, J. C. (2006). The Inheritance of Loss. The New York Review of Books, 21 Dec., 1-2.
Parry, B. (2004). Psychoanalysis and Colonialism. In Postcolonial Studies: A Materialist Critique (pp. 1-15). Routledge.
Parry, B. (2004). Psychoanalysis and Postcolonialism. In N. Lazarus (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies (pp. 208-223). Cambridge UP.
Said, E. W. (2003). Orientalism. Penguin Classics.
Said, E. W. (1977). Orientalism. The Georgia Review, 31(1).Shingavi, S. (2007). The Inheritance of Loss: A Novel by Kiran Desai. World Literature Today, 81(3), 72-73.
Shingavi, S. (2014). Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss and the Global Novel. In A. Kirsch, & J. Kun (Eds.), The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century (pp. 1-12). Columbia University Press.
Spivak, G. C. (1999). A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present. Harvard University Press.


Betool Alkhodairy has an MA in English Literature. I’ve been a Lecturer at Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University for nine years. Over the years, I have held many administrative positions at the university, such as the coordinator of the quality assurance office, the coordinator of the higher education office, the head of the literature center, and currently the head of the Volunteer and community services office. I am also a Ph.D. candidate. ORCid ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6793-2476