Monday, January 13, 2014

The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

I love short story collections. They give you a taste of a writer without having to commit to an entire novel. Having said that I have read Anita Desai's work before, so I was delighted to see "The Artist of Disappearance", her collection of short stories. They are so beautiful and creatively written, not too sweet and not too sour, and just had everything I wanted in a book; wonder, sadness, beauty, surprise, compassion, creativity, believable characters; people you can relate to, wherever you hail from. It is a nice pocket-sized book to carry around with you, and each story of the three stories is charming in its own way.

The first is about a clerk who is invited to look at a collection of artifacts from around the world stored in a former spectacular household in a remote part of India. It is a beautiful story about a mother's love and the hope that her son would return to see what she has done with the treasures he has collected from his travels.

The second story was so thought-provoking, about a woman who took it upon herself to translate some works from a rarely-used Indian dialect, to a more widely accessible language. In doing so, she causes controversy, in a most thought-provoking manner, when all she wants to do is to do is to promote a writer she firmly believes in.

The final story has the sadness and compassion of a tragedy, with the excitement of youth and the modern world. It is about a group of film-makers who want to make a film about the desecration of the lands because of loggers and quarries, and a hermit who has lost everything. As the film-makers make their film, they make a beautiful discovery, and need the co-operation of the hermit, and so continues the tale.

I have not been to India yet, so I cannot confirm how realistic these stories are, but to me, they make me feel that it is a country full of rich characters, beauty, and strong belief. If I am wrong, please educate me by suggesting titles which give a more realistic viewpoint.

Needless to say, our bookshop will stock short stories and other titles by Anita Desai.

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