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book cover of Fasting, Feasting

Fasting, Feasting

(1999)
A novel by

 
Awards
The Man Booker Prize Best Novel (nominee)
Anita Desai has long proved herself one of the most accomplished and admired chroniclers of middle-class India. Her 1999 novel, Fasting, Feasting, is the tale of plain and lumpish Uma and the cherished, late-born Arun, daughter and son of strict and conventional parents. So united are her parents in Uma's mind that she conflates their names. "MamaPapa themselves rarely spoke of a time when they were not one. The few anecdotes they related separately acquired great significance because of their rarity, their singularity." Throughout, Desai perfectly matches form and content: details are few, the focus narrow, emotions and needs given no place. Uma, as daughter and female, expects nothing; Arun, as son and male, is lost under the weight of expectation. Now in her 40s, Uma is at home. Attempts at arranged marriages having ended in humiliation and disaster, and she is at MamaPapa's beck and call, with only her collection of bracelets and old Christmas cards for consolation.
Uma flounces off, her grey hair frazzled, her myopic eyes glaring behind her spectacles, muttering under her breath. The parents, momentarily agitated upon their swing by the sudden invasion of ideas--sweets, parcel, letter, sweets--settle back to their slow, rhythmic swinging. They look out upon the shimmering heat of the afternoon as if the tray with tea, with sweets, with fritters, will materialise and come swimming out of it--to their rescue. With increasing impatience, they swing and swing.
Arun, in college in Massachusetts, is none too happily spending the summer with the Pattons in the suburbs: their refrigerator and freezer is packed with meat that no one eats, and Mrs. Patton is desperate to be a vegetarian, like Arun. But what he most wants is to be ignored, invisible. "Her words make Arun wince. Will she never learn to leave well alone? She does not seem to have his mother's well-developed instincts for survival through evasion. After a bit of pushing about slices of tomatoes and leaves of lettuce--in his time in America he has developed a hearty abhorrence for the raw foods everyone here thinks the natural diet of a vegetarian--he dares to glance at Mr. Patton."

Desai's counterpointing of India and America is a little forced, but her focus on the daily round, whether in the Ganges or in New England, finely delineates the unspoken dramas in both cultures. And her characters, capable of their own small rebellions, give Fasting, Feasting its sharp bite. --Ruth Petrie



Anita Desai's new book, hailed as "unsparing, yet tender and funny,"* brilliantly confirms her place among today's foremost Indian writers. FASTING, FEASTING takes on Desai's greatest theme: the intricate, delicate web of family conflict. It tells the moving story of Uma, the plain older daughter of an Indian family, tied to the household of her childhood and tending to her parents' every extravagant demand, and of her younger brother, Arun, across the world in Massachusetts, bewildered by his new life in college and the suburbs, where he lives with the Patton family. Published in Britain to rave reviews, FASTING, FEASTING is "rich in the sensuous atmosphere, elegiac pathos, and bleak comedy at which the author excels" (The Spectator). From the overpowering warmth of Indian culture to the cool center of the American family, it captures the physical -- and emotional -- fasting and feasting that define two distinct cultures. *(Times Literary Supplement)

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Hardback Editions

November 2000 : UK Hardback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-7540-4239-1 / 978-0-7540-4239-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Chivers Large print (Chivers, Windsor, Paragon & C
Availability: Amazon UK   


July 2000 : USA Hardback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-7862-2638-2 / 978-0-7862-2638-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


January 2000 : USA Hardback

Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 1-4177-1675-4 / 978-1-4177-1675-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: San Val
Availability: Amazon UK   


June 1999 : UK Hardback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-7011-6894-3 / 978-0-7011-6894-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

June 2018 : UK Paperback

Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 1-78487-393-4 / 978-1-78487-393-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Availability: Amazon UK   


June 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-7540-4240-5 / 978-0-7540-4240-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Chivers Large print (Chivers, Windsor, Paragon & C
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-09-928963-6 / 978-0-09-928963-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Vintage
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting A Fmt
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-09-928472-3 / 978-0-09-928963-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: VINTAGE
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


January 2000 : USA Paperback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-618-06582-2 / 978-0-618-06582-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


1999 : Paperback
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): A Desai
ISBN: 8184000588 / 978-8184000580
Publisher: Quality Paperbacks Direct
Availability: Amazon   


Audio Editions

June 2000 : UK Audio Cassette
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Title: Fasting, Feasting (BBC Radio 4)
Author(s): Anita Desai
ISBN: 0-563-47711-3 / 978-0-563-47711-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

October 2012 : UK Kindle edition
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Availability: Amazon UK   


January 2000 : USA Kindle edition
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Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author(s): Anita Desai
Publisher: Mariner Books
Availability: Amazon   



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