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Gita Mehta was born in New Delhi, India in 1943 to parents who were very involved in the movement for Indian independence. In 1943, India was still a British colony. Three weeks after Mehta was born her father was jailed for supporting the nationalist cause. At the age of three, Mehta was left to be raised in a convent in Kashmir so that her mother could better aid her jailed husband. After India gained its independence, Mehta's father went into politics.

Unlike her traditionally educated mother, Mehta earned a university degree at Cambridge in England. There she met her husband, Sonny, who is currently the editor-in-chief at the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf in New York City. As a journalist, Mehta covered such events as the Bangladesh war of 1971. Mehta has written and filmed several television documentaries. Her first novel, Karma Cola, published in 1979, was an answer, in part, to Westerners' insistence that as a woman in a sari Mehta was an expert on India. The book humorously examines India's enchantment with American materialism and America's attraction to Indian mysticism. The quest for either, said Mehta in an interview for Harper's Bazaar, is a "kind of lobotomy." Her next book, Raj, a historical novel, was published in 1989. In this novel, Mehta documents the divisions between Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh Indians and their struggle against British rule. The novel spans almost 100 years of Indian history, from 1897—the height of British imperial power—to 1970, the year that India, by breaking with the tradition of rulership, became more truly democratic. In 1993, Mehta published A River Sutra. In this novel, Mehta pays scant attention to how India has interacted with Western traditions. Rather, she focuses on how the stories and traditions of diverse Indians—Muslims, Jains, Hindus, and tribal peoples—have been interwoven. The India she writes in this novel seems foreign and strange to Western readers. Sensing this, Mehta included a glossary of terms to aid the uninitiated. In 1997, Mehta published Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India, a work of nonfiction. In this collection of essays, Mehta explores the collisions between technological modernism and ancient traditions in present-day India. Mehta currently divides her time among New York, London, and India.

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