Anita Desai born Anita Mazumdar is an Indian novelist and the Emerita 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 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’. The Peacock, Voices in the City, Fire on the Mountain and an anthology of short stories, Games at Twilight. She is on the advisory board of the Lalit Kala Akademi and a fellow of the Royal society of literature, London.
Anita Desai was born in 1937 in Mussoorie, India to a German immigrant mother, Toni Nime and the Bengali businessman D.N Mazumdar. She began to write in English at the age of 7 and published her first story at the age of 9. She was a student at Queen Mary’s Higher Secondary School in Delhi and received her B.A degree in English literature in the year 1957 from the Miranda House of the University of Delhi.
Desai published her first novel, ‘Cry the peacock’ in 1963. In 1958 she collaborated with P. Lal and founded the publishing firm Writers Workshop. She considers ‘Clear light of day’ her most autobiographical work as it is set during her coming of age and also in the same neighbourhood in which she grew up.
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. In 1999 booker prize finalist novel ‘Fasting, feasting’ increased her popularity. Her novel ‘The zigzag way’ set in twentieth-century Mexico appeared in 2004 and the latest collection of short stories ‘The artist of disappearance’ was published in 2011.