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Summary Article: Desai, Anita
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Indian novelist. Her calm, sensitive, and often humorous style is much admired. Her early novels concentrate on the internal workings of the mind, often the mind of a woman trying to make time and a place for herself in Indian society. She won international fame and popularity with Fire on the Mountain (1977) and Clear Light of Day (1980) and with the imaginative stories of the tension within families in Games at Twilight (1978). Clear Light of Day, In Custody (1984; filmed 1994), and Fasting, Feasting (1999) were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Guardian Award for Children's Fiction in 1982 for The Village by the Sea.

Later novels include Baumgartner's Bombay (1988), the story of a German washed up on the seashore of India which tackles the horrors of Nazism, and The Zigzag Way (2004), which concerns a US academic exploring his family history in Mexico. She published a collection of short stories, Diamond Dust and other Stories, in 2000. Desai lives in the USA, and was the John E Burchard Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1993–2002).

Desai was born in Mussoorie, Uttar Pradesh, India. Her father was Bengali and her mother German. Her daughter Kiran Desai won the 2006 Booker Prize for The Inheritance of Loss.

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