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Anita Desai


Event Status

Anita Desai has been shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize; the Guardian recently called her ‘India’s greatest living writer’.

Her latest book, The Artist of Disappearance, blends irony, sympathy and a clear-eyed criticism of contemporary culture, in three novellas that explore the frailty and transforming power of art.

Maggie Gee has praised the way Desai’s work hides ‘devastating criticisms of the status quo just beneath the jeweled seduction of her surfaces’.

With influences as diverse as Virginia Woolf and Rilke, her books chronicle ‘forgotten, vanishing worlds, art and language that exist on the margins’, in the words of her daughter (and Booker winner) Kiran Desai.

The India of Anita Desai’s childhood transformed after Partition; later she left for new homes in England and the United States, though India remains her canvas.

This experience, she believes, led her to become a writer – to make sense of a fractured world. ‘It’s like having a jigsaw puzzle and having to see how to put the pieces together.’

Anita Desai will be joined in conversation by Hilary Harper.

Anita Desai appears as part of a double-bill with William Dalrymple. Book your discounted tickets to both sessions here.


Anita Desai

Anita Desai was born and educated in India. Her published works include many award-winning short story collections and novels, three of which have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, most recently Fasting, Feasting. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the American Academy of... Read more

Hilary Harper

Hilary Harper has a degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing, and 30 years’ experience in radio. She’s been at the ABC since 2005. She’s covered everything from news and current affairs to traffic reporting, arts, health, gardeni... Read more


Athenaeum Theatre

188 Collins Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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