Born on 24th June 1937, in Mussoorie this eminent novelist and short story writer is a Professor of Humanities, Emeritus at the Massachusatts Institute of Technology. Born as Anita Mazumdar,the daughter of D.N. Mazumdar, a Bengali businessman and Toni Nime,who was a German, Anita received her earlier education at Queen Mary’s Higher Secondary School.
Anita was a precocious child, she started writing short stories at a very young. Her first short story was published when she was mere nine.She joined ‘Miranda House’ for her bachelor’s degree and completed her graduation in English literature in 1957 at the age of 20.
In 1958 Anita tied the nuptial knot with Ashvin Desai, a businessman. She ventured into the field of novel writing with her novel ‘Cry, The Peacock’, followed by ‘The Voices of the City’ and ‘The Fire on the Mountain’. The Fire on the Mountain is based on the lives of three women residing in Kasauli and their different experiences of life.
In 1980 came her famous novel, The Clear Light of Day, which bears impressions of Anita Desai’s own life. This novel set in Old is a story of a middle-class Hindu family around the time of partition of India . The story revolves around the central character, Bim (Bimla). She lives in her house with her mentally retarded brother Baba. Her sister Tara and her elder brother go away with their respective families leaving her to bear all the problems and responsibilities of the household alone. The novel is partially a trip down memory lane.
Her another important works include Where Shall We Go This Summer?, Games at Twilight and Other Stories, Village by the Sea, In Custody, Baumgartner’s Bombay, In Journey to Ithaca , Diamond Dust and her booker prize nominated novel, Fasting Feasting. The Zig Zag Way published in 2004 is her most recent novel. Anita desai has been honored with many literary awards including The Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction, for the novel The Village by the Sea and the 1978 National Academy of Letter Award for her novel Fire on the Mountain.
Anita Desai is a Fellow of many prominent literary organizations such as The Royal Society of Literature,London and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her daughter Kiran Desai has won the 2006 Man Booker Prize for her novel the ‘Inheritance of Loss’.