“The Artist of Disappearance” by Anita Desai

I enjoyed this collection of three novellas quite a lot (it was the first adult literature I’ve read in quite a while, as finishing up in grad school and getting started in a post doc really absorbed so much of the last year), but also found them somewhat perplexing.  In all three stories, there are very long stretches in which nothing happens — there are wonderfully crafted descriptions of places and the thoughts of the main characters, but hardly any actual activity, and the events that shape the stories happen in the gaps between sections, rather than in the text itself.  In the last half of the title story, finally some characters do something, though these characters appear in what I found to be a somewhat jarring fashion with no real introduction.  My overall experience was a combination of pleasure at the beautiful writing and descriptions, and confusion at the lack of activity and some of the author’s choices (e.g., why the narration switches between first and third person in the second story).  Finally, I’m curious whether other readers of the first story (The Museum of Final Journeys) think that the final box in the museum can be explained, or whether it’s meant to be a complete mystery.

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