ANITA DESAI Biography - Writers


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Anita Desai was born June 24, 1937 in India to a German mother and an Indian       
father. Although she now resides in South Hadley, Massachusetts, teaching           
writing at Mount Holyoke College, she is a member of the Advisory Board for         
English in New Delhi. Desai writes in English, saying, "I first learned English     
when I went to school. It was the first language that I learned to read and         
write, so it became my literary language. Languages tend to proliferate around     
one in India, and one tends to pick up and use whatever is at hand. It makes one   
realize each language has its own distinct genius." Her family spoke German at     
home and Hindi to their friends.                                                   
Desai's work is part of a new style of writing to come out of India which is not   
nearly as conservative as Indian writing has been in the past. One concern that     
is part of her work, especially the novel Baumgartner's Bombay, is that about       
foreignness and dividedness. Desai grew up during World War II and could see the   
anxiety her German mother was experiencing about the situation and her family in   
Germany. After the war when she realized the Germany she had known was devasted,   
her mother never returned there, nor had any desire to return. Anita herself did   
not visit until she was an adult.