A British fiction writer thrice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, she is best known for her British Guardian Prize-winning novel, The Village By the Sea. Also a university professor, she taught humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She earned a degree in English literature from the University of Delhi in 1957.
Her award-nominated works of fiction include Clear Light of Day, In Custy and Fasting, and Feasting.
With her businessman husband, Ashvin Desai, she had four children.
Her daughter, Kiran Desai , published a Booker Prize-winning work.