The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

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Synopsis

A triptych of haunting, beautiful novellas make up Anita Desai's latest offering since The Zigzag Way. Each is set in modern India, but moves beyond the cities to places, and people, haunted by the past. In 'The Museum of Final Journeys', the narrator, an unnamed government official, is taken on a tour of a deserted estate house, packed with an extraordinary collection of goods and riches sent by an absent master from all over the world, including a live elephant from Burma. In 'Translator Translated', Prema, throbbing with regret and exhibiting the 'signs of a failed life', meets her successful publisher friend Tara at a school reunion, who hires her as translator of Oriya dialect. Buoyed by her work, she starts to rewrite the stories she's given to translate, and in doing so, her dreams start to give way to a harsh reality. And in the final moving story 'The Artist of Disappearance', a modern film crew intrude on a man living hermit-like in a burnt-out house in the Himalayas... In each, the 'long past' casts a shadow over the present, and in her elegant luminous prose, the stories hum with the quiet intensity of memory and a pervasive sense of history. Remarkable in their clarity, sensuous in their telling, the stories here remind us of the extrordinary, delicate power of this preeminent writer.
 

About Anita Desai

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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 Arts and Letters, and lives in New York State.
 
Published December 6, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Artist of Disappearance

The Guardian

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How did you come to write The Artist of Disappearance, your trio of novellas about the influence of the past on modern India?The ideas had planted themselves in me long ago.

Sep 04 2012 | Read Full Review of The Artist of Disappearance

The Washington Post

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Dec 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Artist of Disappearance

The Bookbag

For me, this is the only story that seems constrained by the short format as the artist and the film crew battle for centre stage in the story, but that's a minor quibble.

Jul 18 2012 | Read Full Review of The Artist of Disappearance

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