Born as Anita Mazumdar to a German mother, Toni Nime, and a Bengali businessman, D. N. Mazumdar in
She was a student at Queen Mary's
She published her first novel in 1963, Cry The Peacock. She considers Clear Light Of Day (1980) her most autobiographical work as it is set during her coming of age and also in the same neighbourhood in which she grew up. In 1984 she published In Custody - about an Urdu poet in his declining days - which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 1993 she became a creative writing teacher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology ). Her latest novel published in 2004, The Zigzag Way, is set in 20th-century
Her novels include Fire on the Mountain (1977), which won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, and Clear Light of Day (1980), In Custody (1984) and Fasting, Feasting (1999), each of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In Custody was made into a film by Merchant Ivory productions. Her children's book The Village by the Sea (1982), won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award.
She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the
Anita Desai confesses that while she 'feels about