15 June 2009

Brief thoughts on Anita Desai's Diamond Dust

Title: Diamond Dust and Other Stories
Published in: 2001
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 224

Lot of imagery, lyricism in the language, and very descriptive, so Desai isn't always the easiest authors to read - especially if you don't necessarily have much patience for dreamy, languorous prose.
The first story actually put me off with its dialogues. When one is describing Indians in a distinctly urban Indian setting, the language must sound more or less authentic (with some desi words interspersed etc). But Desai gets them to talk stilted English, which mars the effect of an otherwise engaging theme.

But the next few stories get better. There's a great deal of artistry in the book, the themes are varied, the language is exquisite at points (and yet metaphors are forced.) There is great emphasis on imagery and visuals and there are at least two stories that are unforgettable. The Rooftop Dwellers about a single girl's predicament in a big city like Delhi and Winterscape, a evocative tale of two sisters, their shifting fates that ultimately become one, are both brilliant and testimony to Desai's undeniable writing prowess.

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