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Shashi Deshpande couldn’t contain her laughter when her new novel In the Country of Deceit was described as “Jane Austen with the complications of sex”.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published:January 19, 2009 12:17 am

Shashi Deshpande couldn’t contain her laughter when her new novel In the Country of Deceit was described as “Jane Austen with the complications of sex”. “She’s the writer I admire the most but it’s not like I wanted to bring her into my book,” said Deshpande,who has written her first love story after eight novels and several collections of short stories.

In the Country of Deceit (Penguin,Rs 395) is about the young woman Devayani who lives alone in small town Rajnur. Gardening,teaching English and befriending Rani,a former actor,takes much of Devayani’s time till she meets the new district superintendent of police,Ashok Chinappa and embarks on a relationship without a future. Deshpande,who flew down from Bangalore for the Delhi event where her book was discussed and portions of it read out,reminisced about writing in the Eighties: “For those of us who were writing in English in the 1980s,we had few models. It was an isolated experience. Each writer decided on how they would like to use the English language and I decided that I wouldn’t use pidgin English,which makes a sensible person sound like a moron.” That she didn’t. What she did do was to incorporate the multiple languages that we use in our daily lives. Her latest novel has characters switching between English,Marathi,Kannada and Hindi. “The way we speak,switching from one language to another,and how we sound need to come through. We’re always talking in pan-Indian tones and don’t bring caste into our books,even though it defines our social structure in a major way,” said Deshpande.

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