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Anita Desai ELP

Anita Desai ELP

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Published by: magic63 on Sep 07, 2010
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Games at Twilightby Anita DesaiStudy Guide
Anita Desai is one of the first women writers who has established a name for Indian Writing in English. Anita Desai is of mixed parentage. Her mother beinggerman- and her father a Bengali businessman She has lived in India, Europe andis currently Professor of Creative writing at the MIT. She was born AnitaMazumdar in June 1937.She is a successful novelist and short story writer, who has been countless timesnominated for the very prestigious Booker Prize, which her daughter Kiran Desai,incredibly went off to win with her second novel The Inheritance of Loss in 2006.Anita Desai has won many awards:
1978 - National Academy of Letters Award -
 Fire on the Mountain
 
1978 - Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize -
 Fire on the Mountain
 
 
1980 -Shortlisted, Booker Prizefor Fiction -
Clear Light of Day
 
1983 - Guardian Children's Fiction Prize -
1984 -Shortlisted, Booker Prizefor Fiction -
 In Custody
 
1993 - Neil Gunn Prize
1999 -Shortlisted, Booker Prizefor Fiction:
 Fasting, Feasting 
 
2000 -Alberto Moravia Prize for Literature (Italy)She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Artsand Letters, Girton College, Cambridge and Clare Hall, CambridgeAnita Desai lives in the United States, where she is the John E. Burchard Professor of Writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.The corpus of Anita Desai’s work is quite impressive.The great poignancy of her style derives from the relentlessness with which shehas always attempted to uncover the unspoken layers of human experience, beyond the visible commonplace. Her writing oscillates on the verge of thesubconscious experience of the complexity of human relationship. She has a keensensitive, sharp insight of the fragmentation of human experience, which shecaptures with incomparable style, through a mixture of imagery, style, setting, psychological understatement and a tragic awareness of the dividing line betweenexpected social roles and the deep demands of the individual psyche.This guide focuses on only one of her collection of short stories- Games atTwilight- which was published in 1978. It was only her first collection of shortstories, though her third publication after Cry The Peacock (1963 ) and Fire on theMountain (1977)In this collection, from the early phase of her career ( It is important to stress thisfor her writing has considerably evolved over time, though deepening the
 
introspective themes of the early years) Anita Desai paints various quaint littlevignettes of facets of life in mid twentieth century India. Her frame of referencesrange from the affluent urban middle class to the marginals who live on the periphery of mainstream society. Interestingly her secular portrayal of indiansociety gives wide coverage to customs, manners, way of life and the day to day business of living as young and old struggle to cope with the demands andconstraints of their various existence. One theme which predominates in most of the stories is the imbrication of individual lives within social networks with thestructure of demands and responsibilities which this implies. This is what Hareshescapes from as he becomes a fake swami in Surface Textures, this is what drivesSonu crazy as he descends into the schizophrenia of his dual mental life betweenthe demands of his exam routine and the unexplainable concern and sociability of his family who is unable to understand that their too great concern is at odds withthe expectations they have for the exam candidate.Altogether characters in this collection seem to evolve either on the periphery of what is usually considered to be normal society or they live self-enclosed liveswith circular routines which allows them little time for larger social realities. Thisis the case of the young an in The Accompanist, who has lost all sense of the boundaries of his individual self as he becomes the shadow of his master musician,his very life dissolves into non-being but encountering 'normal' existence throughhis friends who taunt him with the oddity of his life disrupts his sense of normality temporarily until he returns to his contented inner world of devotion andmusic. In other stories Desai shows various instances of the indian middle classcaught in the exigencies of life's demands, such as the couple in The FarewellParty, or Mr Bose's private tuition to make both ends meet at the end of the month.Her interest with the marginals also encompasses the impoverished Christians(The Pineapple Cake), retired people ( Pigeons at Daybreak, A Devoted Son),theincongruousness of the artistic imagination producing beauty from the midst of industrial squalor, or the complexities of the transcultural experience between the

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