Follow Here To Purchase The Artist of Disappearance

Author: Anita Desai

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 978-0-547-57745-6


The Artist of Disappearance is the last and title novella of this collection of  three novellas and, for me the best of the three. The primary character, Ravi, creates artistic arrangements of nature and if you love nature as I do, you’ll love the images evoked herein.

Outdoors was freedom. Outdoors was the life to which he chose to belong – the life of  the crickets springing out of the grass, the birds wheeling hundreds of feet below in the valley or soaring upwards above the mountains, and the animals invisible in the undergrowth, giving themselves away by an occasional rustle or eruption or cries of flurried calls; plants following their own green compulsions and purposes, almost imperceptibly, and the rocks and stones, seemingly inert but mysteriously part of the constant change and movement of the earth. One had only to be silent, aware, observe and perceive – and this was Ravi’s one talent as far as anyone could see.” (p. 101)

The author’s talents include this talent to observe and perceive and then to put these images into the minds eye of the reader with arrangements of words as carefully crafted as the secret garden landscapes created by Ravi.

The second novella in the collection is titled  Translator Translated  and is about a woman who grows up hearing, speaking, and loving the dialect of her mother from a small rural area. She discovers the work of a woman who writes in this dialect and convinces a publisher that this woman’s work should be introduced to a wider audience, translated into English. She is hired to do this work and the author reveals her own special relationship to language:

I was only  the conduit, the medium between that language and this – but I was the one doing the selecting, the discriminating, and I was the only one who could: the writer herself could not. I was interpreting the text for her because I had the power – too strong a word perhaps, but the ability, yes. I was also the one who knew what she meant, what worlds her words evoked. . . .  .  the act of translation brought us together as if we were sisters – or even as if we were one, two compatible halves of the one writer.” (pp.60-61)

I highly recommend The Artist of Disappearance to lovers of nature, and perfectly, poetrically arranged language.

Follow Here To Purchase The Artist of Disappearance