Of all the Indian writers of English fiction, Desai is perhaps the most consummate artist. In her own account, though writing comes to her as naturally as breathing, she works consciously, laboriously, and meticulously to impose a design on the chaotic raw material of life. She regards writing as a process of discovering the truth. This truth is for the most part hidden beneath the surfaces of what people see, say, and do. Consequently, she does not give much importance to plot. Her major preoccupation as a novelist is to plunge to the depths of her characters’ subconscious and reveal the interior landscapes of their minds through the use of evocative poetry, myth, symbol, image, and metaphor.
Desai’s writing shows that she has the rare ability to transcend the limitations of a foreign medium of expression, the English language. In her own words, “By writing novels that have been cataloged by critics as psychological, and that are purely subjective, I have been left free to employ, simply, the language of the interior.” Unlike other contemporary Indian writers who are mainly concerned with the country’s social, political, or economic problems, Desai claims that her “novels are no reflection of Indian society, politics, or character.” Her central concern in fiction has always been an exploration of the individual psyche.
Though the setting, the characters, the ethos, and the atmosphere of her novels are generally Indian, she...
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