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Fire on the Mountain

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  355 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A classic from one of India's greatest writers with a stunning new cover in water colour.

Gone are the days when Nanda Kaul watched over her family and played the part of Vice-Chancellor's wife. Leaving her children behind in the real world, the busier world, she has chosen to spend her last years alone in the mountains in Kasauli, in a secluded bungalow called Carignano.

Hardcover, 145 pages
Published September 1st 1977 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1977)
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The Guide by R.K. NarayanThat Long Silence by Shashi DeshpandeLaburnum For My Head by Temsula AoAzadi by Chaman NahalThe Mahabharata by Chaturvedi Badrinath
Sahitya Akademi Award winners for English
14th out of 22 books — 10 voters
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistryराग दरबारी / Raag Darbari by Shrilal ShuklaThe God of Small Things by Arundhati Royহাজার চুরাশির মা by Mahasweta DeviThe Guide by R.K. Narayan
Greatest Indian Novels
34th out of 58 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 796)
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Portia S
I was enjoying this so much, I was loving this and it made me happy as I read it, and then I reached the ending and I became bitter. That familiar feeling of loathing I held for so long towards ignorance and men rose like bile up my throat. I hate people. I hate men, specifically. I hate the way this book led me up to something happy and then dashed me down into something depressing.

I think I've given away to much there. But what else was I expecting from Desai? She does that, doesn't she, I'm
The painstakingly created solitude of a Nanda Kaul is suddenly disturbed when her great granddaughter is sent to her for recuperation. Discomfort soon turns to tenderness when the little one proves to be different from assumptions. A simple story but Desai's skill at describing the life in the hills of Kasauli and the sparse descriptions are going to be etched in memory for a long long time!
Drsachinjadhav Jadhav
Starting off with languid, repetitive and monotonous descriptions of pine needles, cicadas and apricots the book becomes unputdownable and startles you with a brisk, insightful climax.
A story of three women who are dissatisfied with what life provides them with how they eventually fall prey to their attempts to revitalize it.
Snigdha sinha
A beautiful classic expressing the story of a lady, Nanda Kaul who went to live in solitude at a hill station in a bunglow called Carignano after the long years of service to her family seeking comfort. Though there wasn't enough impulse to keep me carried away but what really kept me gripped to the book was the relationship with her great granddaughter, Raka who was very untamed and curious. Raka was to recover from her illness. The charm of the story is in the way Nanda Kaul who never intended ...more
Muhammed Furqan
A delightful read but the ending, so tragic.
Pankaj Suneja
Fire on the mountain has simple and detailed story. The plot is that Nanda Kaul chooses to retire from her family life and spend the rest of her life in isolation in Carigano, a secluded bungalow in Kasauli. Ramlal, the cook of the home is the only person who lives in the bungalow along with her. Nanada Kaul is shocked when her great granddaughter, Raka, arrives to stay with her in bungalow. Raka was sent by Asha, daughter of Nanda Kaul and mother of Tara. Raka is suffering from Typhoid and was ...more
Anita Desai so far is one of the very few writers who is able to directly influence my mood through their work. Should you see a tragic end, you too would feel so; if it were a heart-warming end, you too would be smiling. I really felt my mood change at the culmination scene. Such an amazing writer she is! Such a gripping tale this is. If not for anyone else, it was certainly relatable to me.
The opening scene greets us with a postman trekking upwards towards a home in the hilly area of Kasuali.
this book is atypical, a rare species (think life aquatic :P). it's about a little girl having to live with her grandma who is very old and crotchety who has no affection for anyone anymore. they live together in near silence. i like this book so much because it's not the sort of thing people typically make you read about: a grandma and a granddaughter. i know it seems common enough but i don't think i've read another novel that delves into this relationship. i guess people don't write about it ...more
Nanda Kaul retreats to a solitary existence, fed up with society and the world after serving the needs of her extensive family for a lifetime. When her sick great-granddaughter arrives to spend the summer at her place, she is annoyed at first, but soon they develop a bond, and it is actually Nanda Kaul who seeks the company of the child. Later, an old acquaintance comes to visit, disrupting the solitary idyll, and the story comes to a violent ending.

It is a moving and powerful book, presenting a
Sundarraj Kaushik
Based in Kasauli the book revolves around he life of an old lady who is staying away from company as she feels she has endured enough company during her lifetime.
It looks like her life is going to be put in jeopardy due the arrival of her great granddaugther. She is very uncomfortable with the possibility but is in no position to refuse.
The child comes to stay with her. But the child so independent, in fact so aloof, that the old lady feels a little odd. The child is on her own through the day,
Read the review in my blog.

This is my first ever Anita Desai book. And I would say, I read this book out of luck. I am on a vacation and didn’t get any books as I had my kindle editions to read. But un-fortunately (or fortunately), I finished reading my kindle books and was without any books to read. I found this book in my sister’s collections and grabbed it.

Though I didn’t felt it was a great book and it has a sad ending, I like Anita Desai’s writing style and the way she was able to give the
I hadn't really read any Desai (Anita or Kiran) before this one, and I was literally cross with myself for not having read any Desai until now, after I was through this one.

This book is beautiful, in the literal sense. It moves you, it touches you. Every line, every paragraph is so real, so riddled with emotions, you can't help but smile, and be sad with them.

Like I said, this was my first Desai. And it certainly won't be the last.
I have to admit that the Desai daughter, Kiran desai touches me and makes me laugh a lot through her creativity and humour, and much more than her mother Anita. Fire on the mountain is about the lonliness and freedom of an aging grandmother who has abandoned all to be on her own and that of her wild grand daughter who had no where else to go. Wonderful writing, literature and descriptions about India of bygone days and today.
Sparsely but descriptively sets the scene. It is a book that lingers long after you finish reading it. A poignant and sympathetic comparison of what is seen on the surface with what occurs underneath the surface in people's lives.
After a lifetime of serving others, Nanda Kaul retreats to a life of solitude in the mountains. Her independence is shattered by the arrival of a great-grand-daughter, a girl who turns out to love solitary explorations even more than her great-granddaughter does.

Not much happens in this very short novel however Desai moved me with the characters she created, with her descriptions of the natural world and the ease with which she moved from dark comedy to tragedy. I know this book will linger on
Beautiful book. Every word moved me. What a shame she is out of print.
This is by far the best I have read of Anita Desai. The author presents the harsh realities of life in a subtle manner. It starts on a depressing tone with delineation of an old lady, now a great grandmother cherishing her solitude in a cold part of the country.It gives her inner peace to be free from the busy demanding role that she has served for most of her life as a wife, mother, grandmother and so on.The solitude as we see in the first two parts of the book is a choice that the character ha ...more
The narration goes beyond long a suppressed discord with life itself can go is spelled wonderfully. One of those books that sum up the darkest side of human psychology in its end pages..poignantly beautiful.. How small and weak loneliness makes people into is the essence.. Worth a read.
It was my first Anita Desai. Fell in love with her style. Precise yet beautiful. Would definitely go back to it some day in the future. One thing I regret is reading Kiran Desai before I read Anita Desai. Kiran has definitely been influenced by her mother's writing style.
i usually like the books with happy endings but this one bought tears to my eyes.
Presents a pointedly unsentimental look at mothering, and the yearning for solitude and independence that coexist with the institution. Nanda Kaul has retreated after, she thinks, completing her filial obligations. Unexpectedly, her daughter sends her great grandaughter to live with her. The child that finally infects her reflects her own way of being in the world. She resists Kaul's sudden, awkward attempts at companionship and stilted affection. Meanwhile an old friend brings an unwelcome huma ...more
Philippa Rimell
A wonderful book - very short - you could read it in a day (in fact, I did). Nothing much happens and there are only a few characters, but they are wonderful characters, drawn against the backdrop of post-colonial India. Wise and haunting with an underlying tension that leads to a shocking conclusion. It will stay with you long after you've finished reading. Highly recommended.
Jun 23, 2007 Nora rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: South Asian novels about women and oppression
I enjoyed the minimalist approach throughout the novel. I think this novel is one of the finest examples of the 'show and not tell' style of story telling. Its a simple portrayal of three women who have a found a way to live in content albeit in seclusion. The injustices and oppressions are for the reader to derive.
Binu KG
Great writing....!! Four wonderful rooted characters..... The description of the backdrop is so complete that you almost feel the smell, the heat, and the wind of Kasauli.... The book ends leaving behind a pain that grows in you with time....
They say old age is one's second childhood...dis buk explores a dysfunctional relationship between a child and her grandmother...when left alone to themselves. the story gets sluggish during some parts
Atmospheric and reflective on themes such as motherhood and solitude. It is very well-written but I did not get that engaged by it - it was more about atmosphere and themes than storyline.
Akshay Srikar
I'm sure she finished this novel with a grin or at least with a 'you-din't-see-that-coming-huh?' attitude.

When it rains it pours.
This author is very gifted at describing fine details. I did feel the plot lacked enough momentum for me to be carried along, though.
E.J. Russell
evocative, tragic. Anita Desai introduced me to India from my armchair.
Nedra Deadwyler
in the process of reading now, so far- it's good.
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fire on the mountain 1 9 Nov 17, 2011 01:29AM  
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Anita Desai was born in 1937. Her published works include adult novels, children's books and short stories. Sh e is a member of the Advisory Board for English of the National Academy of Letters in Delhi and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London. Anita Mazumdar Desai is an Indian novelist and Emeritus John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technol ...more
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