Photo: Annette Hornischer

Writer, New York

Holtzbrinck Fellow - Class of Fall 2013


Kiran Desai was born in Chandigarh, India, and educated in India, England, and the United States, completing an MFA at Columbia University in 1999. Her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, received the 1998 Betty Trask Award for being one of the best new novels by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations under the age of 35. In her 2006 novel, The Inheritance of Loss, Desai recreated busy, intersecting tales of immigrants meeting for the first time in the basement kitchens of New York, contrasting their stories with the landscapes left behind. The Inheritance of Loss won the Man Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was translated into over forty languages. Two years later, the Gates Foundation project invited Desai to report on a community of sex workers in the coastal state of Andhra Pradesh. Her account, “Night Claims the Godavari,” was included in AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India (Anchor, 2008). In 2009, she was presented with the Columbia University Medal for Excellence. The recipient of a 2013-14 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Desai’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Guardian, Gourmet Magazine, Best American Travel Writing, and The Vintage Book of Indian Writing 1947-1997.