Internationally acclaimed author Kiran Desai will do a reading of her work, followed by a discussion, as part of the Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series. The event is presented in association with the UCT Centre for Creative Writing as part of Open Book Cape Town, and takes place on Thursday 20 September 2012.

Kiran Desai, daughter of author Anita Desai, was born in India and attended Bennington College, Hollins University and Columbia University, where she studied creative writing.

Even before winning the Booker Prize, Desai has been a writer central to international literature. She first came to literary attention in 1997 when she was published in the New Yorker and Mirrorwork, in an anthology of 50 years of Indian writing, edited by Salman Rushdie. In 1998Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard – a pacy, fresh look at life in the provincial town of Shahkot in India and simultaneous study of the pathos of familial misunderstanding, hero-worship, the unpredictability of commercialism and the ineptness of officialdom – was published to critical acclaim.  She says, “I think my first book was filled with all that I loved most about India and knew I was in the inevitable process of losing. It was also very much a book that came from the happiness of realising how much I loved to write.”

Eight years later, The Inheritance of Loss – set in the mid-1980s in a Himalayan village – was published, taking on subjects such as morality and justice, globalisation, racial, social and economic inequality, fundamentalism and alienation. It was awarded the coveted 2006 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the 2007 National Book Critics’ Circle Fiction Award, and shortlisted for several other international awards.  When talking of the characters in The Inheritance of Loss, and of her own life, Desai says, “The characters of my story are entirely fictional, but these journeys (of her grandparents) as well as my own provided insight into what it means to travel between East and West and it is this I wanted to capture. The fact that I live this particular life is no accident. It was my inheritance.”

Refreshments will be served from 17:00. No Booking is necessary. For more information on the Great Texts / Big Questions series, please contact +27 21 480 7156 or

Photo by Jerry Bauer

Kiran Desai audio recording available for download.

Kiran Desai video recording:

Start: 20 Sep ’12 5:30 pm

End: 20 Sep ’12 6:30 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Hall

Phone: +27 21 480 7156

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa