Anita Desai

Anita Desai bigraphy, stories - Indian fiction writer

Anita Desai : biography

24 June 1937 –

Anita Mazumdar Desai (born 24 June 1937) is an Indian novelist and the Emeritus John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a writer she has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times; she received a Sahitya Akademi Award in 1978 for her novel Fire on the Mountain, from the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters; she won the British Guardian Prize for The Village by the Sea. . 12 March 2001. Retrieved 2012-08-05.


Anita Mazumdar was born in Mussoorie, India, to a German mother, Toni Nime, and a Bengali businessman, D. N. Mazumdar.. Retrieved 2012-06-21. She grew up speaking German at home and Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and English outside the house. Although German is her first language she did not visit Germany until later in life as an adult. She first learned to read and write in English at school and as a result English became her "literary language".. Melissa Culross ’92 (EL 34, 1991). She began to write in English at the age of seven and published her first story at the age of nine.

She was a student at Queen Mary’s Higher Secondary School in Delhi and received her B.A. in English literature in 1957 from the Miranda House of the University of Delhi. The following year she married Ashvin Desai, the director of a computer software company and author of the book: Between Eternities: Ideas on Life and The Cosmos. They have four children, including Booker Prize-winning novelist Kiran Desai. Her children were taken to Thul (near Alibagh) for weekends, where Desai set her novel The Village by the Sea. For that work she won the 1983 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children’s writers.


  • 1978 – Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize- Fire on the Mountain
  • 1978 – Sahitya Akademi Award (National Academy of Letters Award)- Fire on the Mountain
  • 1980 – Shortlisted, Booker Prize for Fiction – Clear Light of Day
  • 1983 – Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize – The Village by the Sea: an Indian family story

. 12 March 2001. Retrieved 2012-08-05.

  • 1984 – Shortlisted, Booker Prize for Fiction – In Custody
  • 1993 – Neil Gunn Prize
  • 1999 – Shortlisted, Booker Prize for Fiction: Fasting, Feasting
  • 2000 – Alberto Moravia Prize for Literature (Italy)
  • 2003 – Benson Medal of Royal Society of Literature


In 1993 Merchant Ivory Productions released In Custody, directed by Ismail Merchant, with a screenplay by Shahrukh Husain. It won the 1994 President of India Gold Medal for Best Picture and stars Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Om Puri.


Desai published her first novel, Cry The Peacock, in 1963. She considers Clear Light Of Day (1980) her most autobiographical work as it is set during her coming of age and also in the same neighbourhood in which she grew up.. Elizabeth Ostberg. 12 February 2000. Retrieved 2012-06-21. In 1984 she published In Custody – about an Urdu poet in his declining days – which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 1993 she became a creative writing teacher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.. Her novel, The Zigzag Way, set in 20th-century Mexico, appeared in 2004 and her latest collection of short stories, The Artist of Disappearance was published in 2011.

Desai has taught at Mount Holyoke College, Baruch College and Smith College. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and of Girton College, Cambridge University (to which she dedicated Baumgartner’s Bombay).Baumgartner’s Bombay, Penguin 1989. In addition, she writes for the New York Review of Books.


  • at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin

Category:1937 births Category:Living people Category:Indian women novelists Category:21st-century women writers Category:Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty Category:Mount Holyoke College faculty Category:Indian emigrants to the United States Category:Fellows of Girton College, Cambridge Category:University of Delhi alumni Category:People from Dehradun Category:American women novelists Category:Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winners Category:Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature Category:Recipients of the Padma Shri Category:Recipients of the Sahitya Akademi Award in English Category:English-language writers from India Category:Indian people of German descent Category:Smith College faculty Category:20th-century American novelists Category:Indian novelists Category:21st-century American novelists