Her mama’s girl

Hullabaloo In The Guava Orchard Desai’s first novel set in a village in Punjab. Written with rich, moving detail, we are told of a man running away from his responsibilities.
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Updated on Jan 22, 2011 10:53 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByMayank Austen Soofi

Instead of talking about boyfriend Orhan, Kiran Desai preferred to talk — in great detail — about mummy Anita Desai. “The way she sits, the way she talks, and the way she writes is like a devoted writer,” Kiran said, sitting among the crowd.

Having downed a glass of wine just before the session, she continued her filial musings: “The silence in her house is like a writer’s silence, the light in her drawing room is like a writer’s light. When I was growing up in Delhi, her happiest moment would come when we would be leaving for the school. Mother would immediately go to the desk where she would write next to her dog.”

Working on her third novel, Desai admitted that she is “slow and lazy”. She reminded the packed audience how after she won the Booker, her book The Innocence of Loss was burned in Kalimpong, West Bengal, where the novel was partly set. “I was depressed but I also realised that I had suddenly become worth a fight. A novel is not just a novel. It is also read as a representation of an entire community.”

To Desai, the most disastrous thing that could happen to a writer is to give out her email address. “E-mails are so distracting. I send necessary e-mails only from cafes, not from home. No Twitter, no Facebook for me.”

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