(Last Updated on : 28/02/2012)
Anita Desai the eminent and popular writer once said, "My style of writing is to allow the story to unfold on its own. I try not to structure my work too rigidly," The characters of novels and short stories of Anita Desai are the creations that are moulded with the moods and events of the circumstances. The brilliant imageries that are welded to define the story simply deserve comparison with the modernist sensibilities of William Faulkner, T. S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf. Imagination is the base of her characters.
Anita Desai's work is a part of new style of writing, which came out of less conservative writings of India as Indian writings have been in the past. For sensitive portrayal of the inner life of her female characters, this Indian novelist and short story writer is eminent. Desai explores the tension between the family members and the lack of correlation of middle class women in several novels.
Early Life of Anita Desai
Anita Desai was born to a German mother and an Indian Father in India June 24, 1937. She teaches writing at Mount Holyoke College in United States. She was born as Anita Mazumdar. She grew up speaking German at home and Bengali at home. She learned to read and write in English at school, which became her literary language. Anita Mazumdar married Ashvin Desai in the year 1957. They have four children from their marriage. Kiran Desai, the author and winner of the 2006 Booker prize is her daughter.
Anita Desai as a Writer
Anita Desai started to write short stories before her marriage. She made her debut with "Cry, The Peacock
" in 1963 as a novelist. The next was the "Voices of the City" in 1965 a story of three siblings Amla, Nirode and Monisha and their ways of life in Kolkata
. With "Where Shall We Go This Summer
" in 1975, it is being noticed that her characters often adopt escapist way to cope with the boring day-to-day life. "Fire on the Mountain
" a story on three women and their experience in life was published in 1977. In 1980 Anita Desai wove the history of Delhi
with a middle class Hindu family in "Clear Light of Day". She considers this book as her autobiographical work. Anita Desai started to look the life of unprivileged. It reflected in the book "In Custody
" in 1984. It is a story about in his declining days of an Urdu Poet. The book was short listed for the Booker prize. She has been nominated three times for the Booker prize. "Baugmarten's Bombay
" in 1988, is her German half of the parental heritage. She examined the nature of pilgrimage to India in her "Journey to Ithaca" in 1995. Her "Fasting, Feasting" in 1999 concentrates on male and female role an Indian and American culture. She received the 'Guardian Award' in 1983 for her Children's fiction for the novel "The Village by the Sea." In 1978 for her "Fire on the Mountain" won the 'National Academy of Letters Award'. With "The Zigzag Way" in 2004 she departed from her Indian Territory. It is a story of Identity and self-discovery in Mexico.
Awards and Recognition of Anita Desai
Through out her career as a writer she won several awards. She won Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize in the year 1978, Sahitya Akademi Award
in 1978, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 1983, Neil Gunn Prize in 1993, Alberto Moravia Prize for Literature in 2000 and Benson Medal of Royal Society of Literature in 2003. She has been short listed three times for Booker Prize.
Anita Desai has been a member of the Advisory Board for English of the national Academy of Letters in Delhi. She has also been a member of the American academy of Arts and Letters. Anita Desai is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London. Desai has commented on her work: "My novels are no reflection of Indian society, politics or character. They are my private attempt to seize upon the raw material of life." She has dealt with themes like German anti-Semitism, western stereotypical views of India and the demise of the tradition. Her novels reveal the characters though imaginary but are realistic in approach as she says, "I aim to tell the truth about any subject, not a romance or fantasy, not avoid the truth."