Because she spent her childhood in an India, that had not yet opened its doors to the larger world, Indian novelist, Kiran Desai, had only her knowledge from books to rely on, before she later became an immigrant.
“We read as if we were exiles”, says Desai of the long summer afternoons spent reading in her home in Delhi. The beloved bookshelf of Desai’s childhood was full of international books, from Truman Capote to Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Virginia Wolf. This proved an advantage, when she, as a teenager, moved to America and experienced a great cultural difference: “Those books had allowed me to become a more successful and humane traveller. No matter how great the difference seemed, between India and the rest of the world, I did have that humane place of books.”
The displacement she has experienced, as an immigrant, has been helpful to Desai as a novelist, as she considers this sense of displacement to be something you also seek out in art: “You read a book to be able to transform yourself.”
Kiran Desai is an Indian novelist born in 1971 in New Delhi, India. Her first novel Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard was published in 1998 and was praised by fellow authors such as Salman Rushdie and awarded the Betty Trask Award. Desai’s second novel The Inheritance of Loss won the 2006 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award. In 2013, she was awarded a 2013 Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin.
Kiran Desai was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Literature festival August 2012 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014
Supported by Nordea-fonden