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Anita Desai – the queen of Indian authors!!!!!
Article By: Judy
E - Mail 02-12-05

Anita Desai

Born to parents of Indian and German heritage, Desai grew up in New Delhi, India. She spoke German at home, and Urdu and Hindi to friends and neighbors. In school, she read and wrote in English. She received her B.A. in English literature from the University of Delhi.

Desai writes in English, saying, "I first learned English when I went to school. It was the first language that I learned to read and write, so it became my literary language. Languages tend to proliferate around one in India, and one tends to pick up and use whatever is at hand. It makes one realize each language has its own distinct genius."

Her family spoke German at home and Hindi to their friends.
Desai's work is part of a new style of writing to come out of India which is not nearly as conservative as Indian writing has been in the past.

One concern that is part of her work, especially the novel Baumgartner's Bombay, is that about foreignness and dividedness. Desai grew up during World War II and could see the anxiety her German mother was experiencing about the situation and her family in Germany.

After the war when she realized the Germany she had known was devasted, her mother never returned there, nor had any desire to return.

She has written more than a dozen adult and children's books, notably Fire on the Mountain (1977), for which she received the National Academy of Letters award in India, Clear Light of Day (1980), and The Village by the Sea (1983), which received the Guardian Prize for Children's fiction. Her novels In Custody (1984) and Baumgartner's Bombay (1988) exemplify her liberal ideas and interest in the outsider.
Her 1999 novel Fasting, Feasting was the third of her works shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She lives in Massachusetts with her family and teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Anita Desai's Works

• Cry, The Peacock, 1963
• Voices in the City, 1965
• Bye-Bye, Blackbird, 1968
• The Peacock Garden, 1974
• Where Shall We Go This Summer?, 1975
• Cut on a Houseboat, 1976
• Fire on the Mountain, 1977
• Games at Twilight; collection of short stories
• In Custody, 1985
• Clear Light of Day
• Fasting, Feasting, 1999




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