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The Artist Of Disappearance by Anita Desai

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In this trio of exquisitely crafted novellas, experience the soaring brilliance and delicate restraint of one of India's great writers. In the opening novella, 'The Museum of Final Journeys', a junior Civil Service officer is assigned to a remote outpost. Bored with his new surroundings, he welcomes the diversion when he is called upon by an old retainer to help preserve the decaying treasures of one family's private museum. Tantalizing and nostalgic, this is an allegory of time and dissolution and of how the past erodes beauty and the present. In the second novella, 'Translator Translated', a prematurely aged lecturer at a girls' college chances upon the opportunity of a lifetime when a self-absorbed publisher commissions her to translate to English a collection of short stories of an obscure Oriya author. The assignment transforms her humdrum life, but when the author's family complains about a translation with which she has taken artistic licence her life unravels. Finally, in the title novella, set in Mussoorie, the reclusive son of wealthy, neglectful parents has a solipsistic existence in the remains of a burnt house high on a mountain. The arrival of a venal film crew from Delhi, making a film about environmental degradation, compels him to withdraw even further into seclusion. Intense, haunting and evocative, The Artist of Disappearance is a delightful rumination on solitude and human frailties.

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