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Desai, Anita

Anita Desai

Elected: 1978

Year of birth: 1937

Image credit: Jerry Bauer

Novelist, short-story writer and children’s author Anita Desai was born in 1937 in Mussoorie, India. She was educated at Delhi University.

Her novels include Fire on the Mountain (1977), which won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, and Clear Light of Day (1980), In Custody (1984) and Fasting, Feasting (1999), each of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In Custody was made into a film by Merchant Ivory productions. Her children’s book The Village by the Sea (1982), won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award. The Artist of Disappearance (2011) is a trio of linked novellas about the art world, each featuring a different kind of disappearance.

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Girton College, Cambridge and Clare Hall, Cambridge.

She lives in the United States, where she is the John E. Burchard Professor of Writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

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Fellowship Election Process​

Fellows are nominated by peers and elected by our Council of writers – our governing Board. Being elected a Fellow of the RSL is a lifetime honour. This role gives them the opportunity to support other writers, readers and the future of literature. The RSL connects writers in the Fellowship to one another, and to a wider readership.