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Anita Desai was born in 1935 in Delhi to a German mother and a Bengali father. She grew up speaking German at home and Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and English at school and in the city streets. She has said that she grew up surrounded by Western literature and music, not realizing until she was older that this was an anomaly in her world where she also learned the Eastern culture and customs. She married a businessman at twenty-one and raised several children before becoming known for her writing. Her first book, Cry,the Peacock was published in England in 1963, and her better known novels include In Custody (1984) and Baumgartner's Bombay (1988).