Journey to Ithaca (Rating: 2 - 196 votes)
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The Zigzag Way, Journey to Ithaca, Clear Light of Day, Diamond Dust: Stories, The Artist of Disappearance, In Custody, Baumgartner's Bombay, The Village by the Sea, Fire on the Mountain, Fasting, Feasting
In The Zigzag Way, the critically acclaimed novelist Anita Desai offers a gorgeously nuanced story of expatriates and travelers adrift in an unfamiliar land. Eric, a young American historian, has come to Mexico on his first trip abroad. His search for his immigrant familys roots brings him to a town in the Sierrra Madre, where a hundred years earlier Cornish miners toiled without relief. Here the suspiciously enigmatic Dona Vera, the fierce Austrian widow of a mining baron, has become a local legend, but her reputation for philanthropy glosses over a darker history. A haunting, powerful novel that culminates on the Day of the Dead, The Zigzag Way examines the subtle interplay between past and present.
Anita Desai is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction, including Baumgartners Bombay, Clear Light of Day, Diamond Dust, and Fasting, Feasting, among other works. Three of her novels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. A professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she now lives in New York., Forgotten by the evolution of the centuries and indifferent to the advances of the twentieth century, Thul, a tiny fishing village not far from Bombay, continues to follow those rhythms of the seasons that have always been handed down. Hari and Lila were born and raised in the village, but now their family is falling into despair: the father to alcohol while the mother is seriously ill. As for money, that there is not even enough to meet the most basic needs between., A wonderful novel in two parts, moving from the heart of a close-knit Indian household, with its restrictions and prejuices, its noisy warmth and sensual appreciation of food, to the cool centre of an American family, with its freedom and strangely self-denying attitudes to eating. In both it is ultimately the women who suffer, whether, paradoxically, from a surfeit of feasting and family life in India, or from self-denial and starvation in the US. or both. Uma, the plain, older daughter still lives at home, frustrated in her attempts to escape and make a life for herself. Her Indian family is difficult , demanding but mostly, good hearted. Despite her disappointments, Uma comes through as the survivor, avoiding an unfulfilling marriage, liek her sister's or a suicidal one, like that arranged for her pretty cousin. And in America, where young Arun goes as a student, men in the suburbs char hunks of bleeding meat while the women don't appear to cook or eat at all - seems bewildering and terriying to the young Indian adolescent far from home., A triptych of beautifully crafted novellas make up Anita Desais exquisite new book. Set in modern India, but where history still casts a long shadow, the stories move beyond the cities to places still haunted by the past, and to characters who are, each in their own way, masters of self-effacement.
In The Museum of Final Journeys an unnamed government official is called upon to inspect a faded mansion of forgotten treasures, each sent home by the absent, itinerant master. As he is taken through the estate, wondering whether to save these precious relics, he reaches the final greatest gift of all, looming out of the shadows.
In Translator, Translated, middle-aged Prema meets her successful publisher friend Tara at a school reunion. Tara hires her as a translator, but Prema, buoyed by her work and the sense of purpose it brings, begins deliberately to blur the line between writer and translator, and in so doing risks unravelling her desires and achievements.
The final story is of Ravi, living hermit-like in the burnt-out shell of his family home high up in the Himalayan mountains. He cultivates not only silence and solitude but a secret hidden away in the woods, concealed from sight. When a film crew from Delhi intrude upon his seclusion, it compels him to withdraw even further until he magically and elusively disappears
Rich and evocative, remarkable in their clarity and sensuous in their telling, these stories remind us of the extraordinary yet delicate power of this pre-eminent writer.