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Anita Desai
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'We were the leftovers of the colonial age'

December 3, 2007

Sandwiched between four lengthy speeches from others who extolled her many merits as a novelist, Anita Desai used her time at the microphone to redirect the evening's focus.

She said, "[Tonight is] an occasion for looking back and tracing the footsteps that brought me here. But that is an individual journey. What I would like to do instead is trace the long journey taken by the English language in India and its unlikely presence here at the Sahitya Akademi."

It was Friday evening, November 30, and Anita Desai had just been formally conferred as the 75th Sahitya Akademi Fellow. She is only the third author with an entirely English portfolio to earn India's top literary honour (she was preceded by the illustrious Mulk Raj Anand and R K Narayan).

A collection of journalists, contemporaries, young authors and fans gathered at Rabindra Bhavan in New Delhi for the ceremony.

Text: Matthew Schneeberger | Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

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