19 October, 2020

In An Antic Land

Desai's eye for detail is meticulous, but her rich fund of humour makes her images delightfully spontaneous. The luxurious prose almost makes up for the novel's lack of emotional heft.

Narendra Bisht
In An Antic Land
Kiran Desai’s delicious new novel begins with a dreamy line: All day, the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. That dreamy hush never lifts as we drift through 300 pages of event, chronicled in prose so joyously kaleidoscopic that the story itself becomes an irritant.

There is a story though, the one everyone’s writing these days: the aching topography of exile, and the seeming impasse between the seductions of terror and those of love. You’ve read the apocrypha (Salman Rushdie) and the prole version (Zadie Smith). Here now is the Disney one.

Sai, orphaned at 13, is plucked from a chilly convent, and sent to Kalimpong to live with her grandfather, old Judge Jemubhai Patel. Pliant and numb, she warms to the strange household at Cho Oyu. Oh, Grandfather more lizard than human... thinks Sai. And Desai completes the portrait: Harking to the prehistoric, in attendance upon infinity, he resembled a creature of the Galapagos staring over the...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

More from Kalpish Ratna

Latest Magazine

October 26, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section