The Artist of Disappearance

Three Novellas

Desai, Anita, 1937-

(Book - 2011)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Artist of Disappearance
"Written late in Anita Desai's illustrious career, these three novellas ruminate on art and memory, illusion and disillusion, and the sharp divide between life's expectations and dreams and its realities. Set in India in the not too distant past, the stories' diverse surroundings and dramas frame universal themes, which illuminate the ways in which various aspects of the Indian culture can nourish or suffocate. All are served up with Desai's characteristic perspicuity, subtle humor and quiet, sensitive writing. Overwhelmed by their own lack of purpose, the men and women who populate these tales set out on unexpected journeys that present them with a fresh sense hope and opportunity. In "The Museum of Final Journeys," a bored and officious junior civil servant imagines he's about to discover a museum filled with priceless treasures; in "Translation," a middle-aged woman has the chance to translate an unknown writer and in the process, impress the woman she most admires; in "The Artist of Disappearance," a documentary film crew, looking to expose the ecological havoc of illegal mining and logging, stumbles upon an artistic creation of unspeakable beauty, hidden from the world by its creator, a local recluse. But these are not heroic characters, and when confronted with defining moments, they struggle against their circumstances, their passivity and the disappointments of their daily lives, like so many flies in a spider's web. An impeccable craftsman, Desai remains evenhanded, elegantly setting the stage for all attendant human frailties to play out." --
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780547577456
Branch Call Number: FIC D
Characteristics: 156 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


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May 04, 2014
  • e_a_howard rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Wonderfully well thought out-psychological portraits of individual experiences. Anita Desai's lovely short stories explore the essence of experience and an individuals interaction with others and society. Beautifully constructed and well rendered stories... a true master of literary expression.

Jun 05, 2012
  • BPLNextBestAdults rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Anita Desai, one of India’s greatest living writers, claims we all have the desire to create but only a few of us are able to avoid the perils of society which can crush creativity. This collection of eloquent, bitter-sweet linked novellas provides a vivid portrait of Indian culture rooted in the rural past and the bustling energy of contemporary life today. The first novella features a bored civil servant with artistic aspirations who is given the opportunity to preserve the treasures collected by a wealthy man but turns his back on the task to let the art decay and eventually disappear from view. The second story reveals a teacher whose secret desire is to create a work of fiction. Her literary voice is squelched during the process of translating another authors work. The last novella introduces a recluse living in a burnt-out house who is happiest creating art from nature using rocks and plants. He remains the last true artist rooted in the rural landscape making art from nature’s bounty.

Apr 04, 2012
  • GummiGirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Beautifully written stories.


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