Kiran Desai: ki-RAN de-SIGH
Kiran Desai was born in India in 1971, she lived in Delhi until she was 14, then
spent a year in England, before her family moved to the USA. She completed
her schooling in Massachusetts before attending Bennington College; Hollins
University and Columbia University, where she studied creative writing, taking two years off to
write Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.
She first came to literary attention in 1997 when she was published in the New Yorker and in Mirrorwork, an anthology of 50 years of Indian writing edited by Salman Rushdie - Strange Happenings in the Guava Orchard was the closing piece. In 1998, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, which had taken four years to write, was published to good reviews. She says, "I think my first book was filled with all that I loved most about India and knew I was in the inevitable process of losing. It was also very much a book that came from the happiness of realizing how much I loved to write."
Eight years later, The Inheritance of Loss was published in early 2006, and won the 2006 Booker Prize. When talking of the characters in The Inheritance of Loss, and of her own life, she says, "The characters of my story are entirely fictional, but these journeys (of her grandparents) as well as my own provided insight into what it means to travel between East and West and it is this I wanted to capture. The fact that I live this particular life is no accident. It was my inheritance."
This biography was last updated on 07/02/2011.
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Kiran Desai talks about her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
What was your process for writing this book--did you start with
the characters or with the plot?
I started with a very small idea, really. I'd read a story in the Times of India and heard about a character from many people, a man who was a very famous hermit in India who really did climb up a tree, who lived in a tree for many, many years, until he died. He died last year, I believe. So I began to wonder what it was about someone like this who would do something as extreme as to spend his life in a tree. So it started really with that character, and then the story built up around it.
When I started writing it I had no idea what the story would be; I had no idea of the plot. It sort of gathered momentum and drew me along. It was an incredibly messy process and I don't know if it was the smartest way to go about it because this was my first book, so I had to teach myself how to write as I was writing it, and I don't know if I went about it the right way but I certainly had a lot of fun. It was very messy though--I had to throw out many pages--about half the book I think I ended up editing. Once I was aware of all ...
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