In Honor of Giving Thanks: Mother and Daughter Writers from “The Guardian”with Kiran Desai interviewing her mother Anita Desai

Anita Desai and her daughter, Kiran Desai

From a wonderfully inspiring interview published on Friday 11, November 2011 from The Guardian “In Conversation: Kiran Desai meets Anita Desai”:

KD Did you ever feel the cost of a writer’s life was too high? You grew up in a house of four children, and we were four children – why do we have such a sense of isolation?

AD I wonder why that is – because we are writers? I’m sure you also feel a sense of envy when you see friends or siblings who belong so wholly to their lives in a way we don’t. It is a great influence on one’s thoughts to be always on the outside, not belonging. There was always a sense of loneliness because my family wasn’t like others.

KD You travelled to so many countries. Did that change the form of your thinking and writing?

AD It was a frightening experience, and I think that fear is something you’ve often experienced. Your subject is elsewhere, and your fear is you may not be able to recover it. When we first came to America and I started teaching, I had an awful feeling that I would never write another thing. I was so far removed from India, the past, family, and what was around me was absolutely not mine, and then I wrote Fasting Feasting, going right back into the past, and the only way I can write is to keep recovering that past.

KD You’ve been working on things I have been struggling with, switching between historical times, different points of view, different geographies.

AD It’s like having a jigsaw puzzle and having to see how to put the pieces together. Fasting Feasting was like having two different jigsaw puzzles and trying to make one from it. I inherited a fragmented world, you had a whole one that fragmented when you were 14 and we left India for England and then the United States, and you’ve had to find a way to fit it together, which is what you did with Inheritance.

KD When you are creating a story, you find a form for it.

For the rest of the mother and daughter interview, click here:

At the salon, we like to believe that most writers have an influential storyteller in their life. For your Salonniere my mother, my father, my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather all loved to tell stories, and I have haphazardly tried to collect them in the lifetimes that have come and gone.

Who are the storytellers in your life? What would you ask them in an interview? How have their stories and their way of telling stories influenced the way you weave yarns?

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