Old Master, New Place

Anita Desai, a veteran of exile fiction, explores a different terrain--but the displacement is familiar

Long before Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for Interpreter of Maladies, long before Monica Ali won thousands of devoted readers with her heartrending Brick Lane, another novelist was offering us exquisitely detailed portraits of bodies in transit--Easterners in the West, half-Westerners back "home" in the East, people who don't know where they belong--and master classes in the art of sly and sensuous fiction. Born to a German mother and a Bengali father in India, long a resident of Britain and the U.S., Anita Desai was a global, migrant writer before such a thing was fashionable.

For those of her generation--Desai...

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