Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai

The World Arrived in Books

Because she spent her childhood in an India, that had not yet opened its doors to the larger world, Indian novelist, Kiran Desai, had only her knowledge from books to rely on, before she later became an immigrant.

“We read as if we were exiles”, says Desai of the long summer afternoons spent reading in her home in Delhi. The beloved bookshelf of Desai’s childhood was full of international books, from Truman Capote to Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Virginia Wolf. This proved an advantage, when she, as a teenager, moved to America and experienced a great cultural difference: “Those books had allowed me to become a more successful and humane traveller. No matter how great the difference seemed, between India and the rest of the world, I did have that humane place of books.”

The displacement she has experienced, as an immigrant, has been helpful to Desai as a novelist, as she considers this sense of displacement to be something you also seek out in art: “You read a book to be able to transform yourself.”

Kiran Desai is an Indian novelist born in 1971 in New Delhi, India. Her first novel Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard was published in 1998 and was praised by fellow authors such as Salman Rushdie and awarded the Betty Trask Award. Desai’s second novel The Inheritance of Loss won the 2006 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award. In 2013, she was awarded a 2013 Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin.

Kiran Desai was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Literature festival August 2012 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Joyce Pensato

    Advice to the Young

    Homer, Mickey, Batman! Joyce Pensato – known for her unique work inspired by cartoon and comic book characters – here advises young artists to keep at it, love what they’re doing and, most importantly, “show your work, get it out there!”

  • Ulay

    Advice to the Young

    “If you want and need inspiration – go behind the central station.” The iconic artist – and self-proclaimed anarchist – Ulay here advises young artists to avoid art institutions and to make works that meet their own needs rather than that of the audience.

  • George Condo

    The Artist at Work

    The mind of American artist George Condo has been referred to as a place where “Picasso meets Looney Tunes.” Watch him at work in his New York-studio where he draws and paints his take on a 19th century painting by Manet.

  • Ulay

    Under My Skin

    This is the story of legendary artist Ulay, famous for his collaboration with Marina Abramović. As a solo artist in search for his identity, Ulay’s radical works have pushed the limits of photography and performance using his own body as material.

  • Olga Tokarczuk

    I Absorb Stories

    Olga Tokarczuk – one of the most important Polish writers of her generation – here shares how she draws inspiration from others: “People tell amazing micro-stories or even bigger stories. I seize them, absorb them and transform them in my books.”

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    What is the Connection

    The exceptional video artist Mika Rottenberg here presents her intriguing video installation ‘Cosmic Generator.’ Set on the U.S.-Mexico border and in a huge Chinese market, the work explores the collapse – or reinforcement – of distance.