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Govindas Vishnudas Desani broke his silence forty years after the appearance of his classic vel, All About H. Hatterr, with this volume of twenty-three stories and one long prose poem, he second full-length book of his fiction ever to be published. Many of the stories appeared first in literary anthologies and magazines over the past thirty years, including The Noble Savage (edited by Saul Bellow), Illustrated Weekly of India, Transatlantic Review, and Boston University Journal. The stories are mostly written in the humorous mode of his vel, relying upon comic timing and his keen sense of the incongruities in contemporary life. They often captivate in the same way as Indres Shah's Sufi learning tales, and the titles alone convey a sense of the interpenetration of India's cultures: Suta Abandoned, Mephisto's Daughter, The Second Mrs. Was Wed in a Nightmare, Gypsy Jim Brazil to Kumari Kinshi, Country Life, Country Folk, Cobras, Thok, ...Since Nation Must Export, Smithers, The Lama Arupa. Whether send-ups of colonialism or lampoons of conventionality, there is a seriousness to Desani's comedy that crosses cultural boundaries and racial identification.
G.V. Desani was born on July 8, 1909 in Nairobi, Kenya, the son of an Indian merchant, and was reared in India. In the late 1930s, and throughout the war, he was a BBC broadcaster and lectured on India throughout England. All About H. Hatterr was written and published in 1948, causing an immediate sensation and eventually achieving permanent fame as one of the greatest Anglo-Indian novels of the century. From the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, Mr. Desani studied Buddhism and Hindu culture in seclusion in India and Burma. He came to the United States in 1970 to teach at Boston University and subsequently the University of Texas at Austin, where he was Professor Emeritus of religion and philosophy. Mr. Desani died in Dallas, Texas, in November 2000.