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Ranking Author Anita Desai’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

“What are Anita Desai’s Best Books?” We looked at all of Desai’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by Anita Desai and looked at their Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed, and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!

The Top Book’s Of Anita Desai

17 ) Where Shall We Go This Summer?

	Where Shall We Go This Summer?

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 14
  • LibraryThing: 14

Skilful dramatization of an unusual life situation of an anguished women by Sahitya Akademi Award winner.The intense story of a sensitive young wife torn between the desire to abandon the boredom and hypocrisy of her middle class and ostensibly comfortable existence, and the realization that he bonds that bind her to it cannot easily be broken.

16 ) Bye-Bye, Blackbird

	Bye-Bye, Blackbird

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 12
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 12

More than a novel, it is a psychological study of the love-hate relationship the immigrants have towards their country of adoption. The colored immigrants from India and other countries – the blackbirds – have a hard time in England. Many are partly rejected, other totally. But the flow continues . And Anita Desai has treated this theme in this widely acclaimed novel.

15 ) Journey to Ithaca

	Journey to Ithaca

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 12
  • LibraryThing: 13

Like many young Westerners in the 60s and 70s, Matteo leaves his home in Italy to search for spiritual enlightenment in India. Parallel to this narrative runs the “Mother”‘s story, from her childhood in Egypt and her travels in Paris, Venice and New York, to her search for divine love in India.

13 ) Fire on the Mountain

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 15
  • Amazon: 2
  • LibraryThing: 15

13 ) Baumgartner’s Bombay

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 15
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 8

Hugo Baumgartner is a lifelong wandering Jew. From his agonising childhood in pre-war Berlin, through his spell in business first in Calcutta and then Bombay, he simply doesn’t belong. Too dark for Hitler’s Germany, too fair for India, he remains a foreigner wherever he goes.

10 ) The Complete Stories

	The Complete Stories

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 14
  • LibraryThing: 15

The Complete Stories gathers together Anita Desai’s short story collections Diamond Dust and Games at Twilight and the novellas of The Artist of Disappearance, with a new preface from the author. From the icy suburbs of Canada to the overcrowded B&Bs of Cornwall, via the hill towns and cities of India, Anita Desai observes human behaviour unflinchingly but not unkindly, recognising our ordinariness and our strangeness, and capturing both with quiet precision.

10 ) The Zigzag Way

	The Zigzag Way

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 14
  • Amazon: 7
  • LibraryThing: 9

Eric is a newly minted historian just out of graduate school, unsure of his past choices and future options. With no clear direction, he follows his lover, Em, when she travels to the Yucatan for her scientific research, but he ends up alone in this foreign place. And so he pursues his own private quest, tracing his family’s history to a Mexican ghost town, where, a hundred years earlier, young Cornish miners toiled to the death. With vivid sympathy, Desai conjures the struggles of Eric’s grandparents and their community. Now, in place of the Cornish workers, the native Huichol Indians suffer the cruelty of the mines. When he inquires into their lives, Eric provokes the ire of their self-appointed savior, Doña Vera. Known as the “Queen of the Sierra,” Doña Vera is the widow of a mining baron who has dedicated her fortune to preserving the Huichol culture. But her formidable presence belies a dubious past. The zigzag paths of these characters converge on the Day of the Dead, bringing together past and present in a moment of powerful epiphany. Haunting and atmospheric, with splashes of exuberant color and darker violence, The Zigzag Way is a magical novel of elegiac beauty.

10 ) The Peacock Garden

	The Peacock Garden

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 15
  • Amazon: 14
  • LibraryThing: 1

Set in 1947 when India was partitioned, this is the story of Zuni, a young Muslim girl, whose family is caught up in the upheaval. Rather than fleeing Pakistan, as many other Muslim families did, Zuni’s family seek refuge in the gardens of a local mosque.

9 ) Fasting, Feasting

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 9
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 9

8 ) Cry, the Peacock

	Cry, the Peacock

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 10
  • Amazon: 3
  • LibraryThing: 11

7 ) Scholar and Gypsy

	Scholar and Gypsy

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 14
  • LibraryThing: 5

6 ) Clear Light of Day

	Clear Light of Day

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 5
  • LibraryThing: 15

Set in India’s Old Delhi, CLEAR LIGHT OF DAY is Anita Desai’s tender, warm, and compassionate novel about family scars, the ability to forgive and forget, and the trials and tribulations of familial love. At the novel’s heart are the moving relationships between the members of the Das family, who have grown apart from each other. Bimla is a dissatisfied but ambitious teacher at a women’s college who lives in her childhood home, where she cares for her mentally challenged brother, Baba. Tara is her younger, unambitious, estranged sister, married and with children of her own. Raja is their popular, brilliant, and successful brother. When Tara returns for a visit with Bimla and Baba, old memories and tensions resurface and blend into a domestic drama that is intensely beautiful and leads to profound self-understanding.

5 ) In Custody

	In Custody

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 6
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 7

Asked to interview India’s greatest poet, Nur, Deven sees a way to escape the miseries of life as a small-town scholar. But the old man he finds deep in the bazaars of Old Delhi bears no resemblance to the idol of his youth. Deven is fooled, bullied and cheated, and drawn into a new captivity.

4 ) Games At Twilight

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 3

Set in contemporary Bombay and other cities, these stories reflect the kaleidoscope of urban life – evoking the colour, sounds and white-hot heat of the city. Warm, perceptive, humorous and touched with sadness, Anita Desai’s stories are peopled with intensely individual characters – the man spiritually transformed by the surface texture of a melon; the American wife who, homesick for the verdant farmlands of Vermont, turns to the hippies in the Indian hills; the painter living in a slum who fills his canvasses with flowers, birds and landscapes he has never seen.

3 ) Diamond Dust

	Diamond Dust

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 6

2 ) The Artist of Disappearance

	The Artist of Disappearance

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 6
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 2

1 ) The Village By the Sea

	The Village By the Sea

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 5
  • LibraryThing: 3

With their mother ill and their father permanently drunk, Hara and Lila have to earn the money to keep house and look after their two young sisters. In desperation, Hari runs away to Bombay, leaving Lila to cope alone.

Anita Desai’s Best Books

Anita Desai Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
The Village By the Sea 3 5 3 1
The Artist of Disappearance 6 4 2 2
Diamond Dust 8 1 6 3
Games At Twilight 4 9 3 4
In Custody 6 8 7 5
Clear Light of Day 2 5 15 6
Scholar and Gypsy 5 14 5 7
Cry, the Peacock 10 3 11 8
Fasting, Feasting 9 11 9 9
The Complete Stories 1 14 15 10
The Zigzag Way 14 7 9 10
The Peacock Garden 15 14 1 10
Fire on the Mountain 15 2 15 13
Baumgartner’s Bombay 15 9 8 13
Journey to Ithaca 11 12 13 15
Bye-Bye, Blackbird 12 13 12 16
Where Shall We Go This Summer? 13 14 14 17