Biography of Kiran Desai: Indian author Kiran Desai was born in Delhi on 3 September 1971. She is the daughter of Indian novelist Anita Desai. Kiran spent her early years in Punjab and Mumbai and studied at Cathedral and John Connon School. Later, at the age of 14, she and her mother lived in England for a year and then moved to the United States. She studied creative writing at Bennington College, Hollins University, and Columbia University.

Works

In 1998, Kiran Desai published her first novel Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard and received praise from writers such as Salman Rushdie. The book won the Betty Trask Award. It is a prize awarded by the Society of Authors for best new novels by citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations under age 35. In 2006, Desai published her second book The Inheritance of Loss, which was widely praised by critics throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia. She became the youngest-ever woman to win the popular Booker Prize at just 35. This record was broken later in 2013 by Eleanor Catton. In 2013, she was awarded Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. She lives in New York City. In 2017, she stated that she had been working on a new novel about a young Indian woman out in the world.

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

Biography of Kiran Desai | Life and Works - Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
Biography of Kiran Desai | Life and Works – Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

Published in 1998, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard is set in the Indian village of Shahkot, Punjab. The story follows the exploits of a young man named Sampath Chawla who is trying to avoid the duties of adult life. Sampath is fed up with his life in Shahkot. So he goes to a guava orchard and settles himself in one of the guava trees. He uses all the gossip he learned while working at the post office to make people believe that he is a clairvoyant and soon Sampath became a known holy man. Desai wrote this book on a basis of a true story of a man named Kapila Pradhan who lived up a tree for 15 years. There are similarities between Kapila Pradhan’s life in the tree and the novel.

The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss is the second novel by Desai, published in 2006. It focuses on the lives of Biju and Sai. Sai is an orphan living in Kalimpong with her maternal grandfather named Jemubhai Patel, the cook, and a pet dog Mutt. Biju is an Indian living in the US illegally. He is the son of the cook who works at Sai’s house. Sai’s father was a Zoroastrian orphan and her mother was a Gujarati. The novel takes place in 1986 and Desai alternates the narration of the novel between the points of view of Biju and Sai. Biju is struggling to make a new life for him which contrasts with Sai, an anglicized Indian girl residing in India with her grandfather.

Biography of Kiran Desai | Life and Works - The Inheritance of Loss
Biography of Kiran Desai | Life and Works – The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss depicts the tensions of past and present and also deals with the internal conflicts within India. Desai writes of rejection and yet represents the awe of the English way of living, the squalor of residing in India, and the money-making opportunities in America. Through the character of Sai’s grandfather, Desai comments on the leading Indians who are so anglicized or white-washed that they are forgetful of the traditional Indian lifestyle. Jemubhai Patel is disgusted with Indian customs and ways so much that he eats chapatis with a fork and knife. He disdains other Indians including his father with whom he has no ties and his wife whom he left at his father’s house after torturing her. Despite all his adopted mannerisms and education, Patel was never entirely accepted by the British. The primary themes of this book are migration, between past and present, and living between two worlds. This book has won several awards including the Booker Prize, the 2006 Vodafone Crossword Book Award, and the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award.

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