‘The Artist of Disappearance’ by Anita Desai comes in hard binding, with a white cover, with little round, and green organisms on it, as if viewed from a microscope.
What lies within, is a selection of three stories or, one could say, three slides, the contents of which, are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
And it is Anita Desai’s remarkably microscopic narrative that allows the reader to study these mysterious slides that give a rich, insightful glimpse into the lives of three highly distinct personalities, humongous yet ant-like, brace yet terrified by the enormity of life and their relative insignificance.
Desai reveals and revels in subtleties and intricate, unapologetic detail, with decisive shifts in voice and tense that serve to give the impression of having boarded a train in the hills, watching the mountains and valleys, the ferns and petals, tunnels and bridges float past the confines of our (the reader’s compartment) mind.
The first is a memory shared by a successful civil servant (If there is such a thing. It is implicit, we believe, in the oxymoron that it is an undeserved adjective given to a corrupt/selfish civil servant) who questions the morality of his past actions (or lack thereof) making us wonder if these, dare we say, people really have a conscience.
The second story, translated, is about a ghost writer of sorts. It makes us wonder, what is the meaning of originality? Is colonialism an indelible part of the Indian identity? How would we deal with this? How would we come to terms with our limitations?
In the third and final, ‘The Artist of Disappearance’ is an amalgamation of sanctity, solitude and preservation. Affection, purpose and motivation are all explored in a haunting tale based in Mussoorie.
Anita Desai brings us a vivid selection of stories that change us as we read, striking chords, leaving ripples and distant echoes of our own childhood, hopes, dreams, failures and successes. The typeface is particularly spectacular. We highly recommend this book. This is for the ones who dream.
About the Author:
Meher is a freelance conceptual artist, writer and activist. She is an avid reader, singer, runner and a foodie!