Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Plot Summary, Character, Introduction

Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary

Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - In this post you will get all the information about ‘Fasting, Feasting’. The proper and easy explanation of the novel is written below, i hope will read the summary and know everything about ' Fasting, Feasting'.

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Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - Fasting, Feasting is a novel by Indian writer Anita Desai, first published in 1999 in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for fiction in 1999. 

The novel was well-received by critics. In an initial review for India TodayJyoti Arora wrote "A certain starkness of vision, an uncompromising realism and superbly evocative images are immediately striking in the novel.”

Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - For SalonSylvia Brownrigg wrote, Fasting, Feasting is a novel not of plot but of comparison. In beautifully detailed prose Desai draws the foods and textures of an Indian small town and of an American suburb. In both, she suggests, family life is a complex mixture of generosity and meanness, license and restriction: The novel's subtle revelation is in the unlikely similarities."

Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - The day after JM Coetzee's novel, Disgrace, was announced as the winner of the 1999 Booker Prize, in an article for The Guardian, John Sutherland, Professor of English at University College, London, leaked hints of divisions and encampments on the panel — so incurring the wrath of the other judges, who wrote furious articles of their own, lambasting him for his indiscretion. The jury was divided and the two female judges, writers Shena Mackay and Natasha Walter, were convinced the Fasting, Feasting should take the prize. Outnumbered on the panel, their opinion was nevertheless strong enough to demand expression, and the Booker Prize judges took the unprecedented step of naming Fasting, Feasting as runner-up.


      • Uma
      • Arun
      • Aruna
      • Mama
      • Papa
      • Mrs. Patton
      • Mr. Patton
      • Melanie
      • Rod
      • Anamika
      • Lily Aunty and Bakul Uncle
      • Mira-Masi
      • Ramu
      • Mrs. O’Henry
      • Mother Agnes
      • Mrs. Joshi
      • Dr. Dutt
      • Ayash
      • Lakshmi


      Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - Anita Desai's novel of intricate family relations plays out in two countries, India and the United States. The core characters comprise a family living in a small town in India, where provincial customs and attitudes dictate the future of all children: girls are to be married off and boys are to become as educated as possible. The story focuses on the life of the unmarried and main character, Uma, a spinster, the family's older daughter, with Arun, the boy and baby of the family. Uma spends her life in subservience to her older demanding parents, while massive effort and energy is expended to ensure Arun's education and placement in a university in Massachusetts. Aruna gets married. In part two the reader is introduced to Arun in America. Therefore, we can compare and contrast between the Indian and the American culture.

      Rather a series of events from life than a complexly plotted work, we follow the fortunes of Uma and Arun as they engage with family and strangers and the intricacy of day-to-day living.

      Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - The novel is in two parts. The first part is set in India and is focused on the life of Uma who is the overworked daughter of Mama and Papa. She is put upon by them at every turn, preparing food, running errands. In the early part of the novel we see her struggling at school. She is not very bright but loves the sisters who teach and appreciate her. Finally, she is made to leave school and serve her parents.

      We meet many interesting characters through her; Ramu-Bhai is a traveling bon viveur who tries to show Uma a good time. He is banished by her parents.

      Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - Another character is the religious Mira Masi who tells Uma all the tales of Krishna and takes her to the ashram allowing her to escape her mother's domination for a time.

      Uma's parents attempt to marry her off on three occasions; on the first occasion, the chosen man fell for Uma's younger sister, Aruna. On the second her parents accept her marriage on behalf of her before finding out later that their dowry has been spent and the engagement is canceled. On the third occasion, a marriage took place but it turns out the Uma's new husband already has a wife. She lives with his sisters while he lives in another town spending her dowry on his ailing business. Uma's father quickly spirits her home.

      Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - We are also told of the episode of Anamika's (Uma's cousin) sad fate. She has won a scholarship to Oxford but her parents insist that she get married. She does and fails to please her husband by providing him with children. He keeps her for a time as a servant but eventually she dies by burning. It is strongly hinted that her in-laws killed her. The final scene of Part 1 is the immersion of Anamika's ashes in the sacred river.

      We are left with great sympathy for Uma and her simple kindness as she survives as best she can in a not altogether friendly world.

      Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - In Part 2 we meet Arun, Uma's privileged brother. He is attending college in America and during summer holidays he lives with the Pattons, an all-American family. Again, the plot is not complex or intricate. The events are told in a serial manner as Arun encounters them.

      Of note is his intense dislike of American food and cooking methods. He is dismayed at the behaviour of Melanie, the daughter who is deeply troubled and suffering from bulimia. Although Mrs Patton seems to care about Melanie, she does little to help.

      Fasting, Feasting By Anita Desai Summary - While apparently close, the family are actually distant from one another, something very different from Arun's experience of family life in India. Arun spends most of his time alone and isolated. Arun tries his best to escape from western society but in vain.


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