Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

With a release this close to Christmas, it can’t help but feel like a gift, especially since The Artist of Disappearance (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) feels like a special treat from this deeply accomplished author. She gives us here not one story, but three in the form of a trio of perfectly executed novellas: “The Museum of Final Journeys,” “Translator Translated” and the title story, “The Artist of Disappearance.”

The three stories are all set in an India of recent memory: just far enough behind us to make us think about what has been lost. The stories seem connected by their inhabitants: sharply human characters setting out on journeys determined, in some ways, by art and culture.

Anita Desai’s first novel, Cry the Peacock, was published in 1963. Since then, she has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times: for Clear Light of Day (1980), In Custody (1984) and Fasting, Feasting (1999).

Born in India in 1937, Desai is a professor emirates at MIT and now lives in New York. ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.

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