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Kiran Desai

Two novels, critical and commercial success and two very prestigious awards make Kiran Desai a literary force to be reckoned with, says Mishty Varma.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 15:28 IST || Mishty Varma || Mishty Varma

Kiran Desai was born in New Delhi on September 3, 1971 to novelist and three-times Booker nominee Anita Desai. When she was fourteen, she moved to England and studied in London. A year later, she moved to the USA and finished her schooling in Massachusetts. Kiran got her undergraduate degree from Bennington, in Vermont, and later on, attended a creative writing programme in Virginia, where she started penning her first novel Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.

Kiran revealed, in an interview, that she had gotten the inspiration for her story from a report in an Indian newspaper about a hermit who had climbed a tree and lived there for several years. Meanwhile, Kiran got a Woolrich scholarship to Columbia University but faced when faced with dual demands of both the novel and the university on her time, she took two years off to finish the book.

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard was published in 1998 by Faber and Faber, and was critically acclaimed by several eminent figures, most notably Salman Rushdie who went on to publish an excerpt of the novel in his controversial anthology Vintage Book of Indian Writing. Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard was awarded the Betty Trask Award by the Society of Authors for the best new novel written by a Commonwealth citizen under the age of 35.

Kiran Desai proved that her critical and commercial success was no one-off when eight years later in 2006, her second novel The Inheritance of Loss was published. With world-wide praise heaped upon it since its publication, The Inheritance of Loss has been recently awarded the very prestigious Man Booker Prize for 2006, making Kiran the youngest woman writer to have ever received the 50000 pound-award.

The judges - biographer and critic Hermione Lee, poet Simon Armitage, novelist Candia McWilliam, actress Fiona Shaw and critic Anthony Quinn - called The Inheritance of Loss 'a magnificent novel of humane breadth and wisdom, comic tenderness and powerful political acuteness'.

First Published: Oct 17, 2006 15:13 IST