Clear Light of Day

by Anita Desai

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Critical Context

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Desai’s adroit perception and representation of complex interior landscapes is the mainstay of her fiction. A focus on isolated individuals, particularly women, frequently figures in Desai’s work. Desai invents compelling characters by representing women at various ages in different social stations and with diverse values. Placing a variety of women at the center of her novels, Desai explores the question of what constitutes woman’s fulfillment and examines the inevitable opposition she faces. Desai’s women are not entirely constructed by social situations but seek symbolic and actual autonomy, overcoming powerful psychic and political constraints.

Clear Light of Day, which was nominated for the 1980 Booker Prize, was Desai’s sixth novel. One of the more prolific and acclaimed Indian women novelists writing in English, she is an important figure in post-Independence Indian literature, and her contribution to the body of international fiction by and about women is of critical significance.

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Critical Evaluation