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Book Review: The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

 The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

Anita Desai’s fans, who had been waiting for another masterpiece have had a reason to rejoice, for the author returned with the ‘The Artist of Disappearance’, seven years after her last work, The Zig Zag Way (2004).

Desai, in her The Artist of Disappearance weaves three yarns ; one, The Museum of Final Journeys; two, Translator Translated; and three; The Artist Disappearance. The reader is left to mull over art, memory; the contrast between the obscure and the palpable with the three perfectly carved novellas. The critics have often described the stories like the three symphonic movements.

The backdrop of the stories is found to be the intense and the vitalizing cosmos of Indian civilization and culture dominated by tradition and capitalism.

The first third of the book ‘The Museum of Final Journeys’, finds a dull and spiritless civil servant who happens to stumble upon a blanked out museum in a rural village in India. A beautifully weaved narrative, makes for a perfectly gripping story. Soon, however, the gear shifts to ‘Translator Translated’ where a meek and lonely college lecturer discovers a great Oriya writer and secures a publishing deal to translate her novel.

Amidst all the joy, she finds herself blurring the line between translator and writer. The final story ‘The Artist of Disappearance’ shifts in focus, where we find a trio of filmmakers discovering a latent garden in the mountains. In one of her interviews, Desai, when asked about Ravi (the character in the final story in the collection), explained that, “he’s never really entered the adult world, and he retains the child’s point of view”.

Needless to say, with the fluidity of language and melancholy vibe, Anita Desai, a writer from the eastern sub continent is adored by the critics and the populace alike.

One word that can be used to describe this work of contemporary Indian fiction – “Sublime”!

About the Author:

Anita Desai is one of India’s foremost writers. She has written sixteen works of fiction, including Clear Light of Day (1980), In Custody (1984), and Fasting, Feasting (1999), all shortlisted for the Booker Prize. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London, the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, Girton college and Clare Hall and the University of Cambridge, and most recently Sahitya Akademi in India, Anita Desai has also been a Professor of Writing at MIT and has frequently been honoured with awards among them the Alberto Moravia Prize for Literature and the Padma Shri.

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Random House India

Last modified on Monday, 04 February 2013 03:55

Charvi Arora is studying English literature at the University of Delhi for her love of it and is a freelance writer. Taking chances with randomness, she is a girl to birth, a woman to death, a soul to divine and a mademoiselle to re-live!

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