Quick: Name a writer of Polish roots who immigrated to London, learned English on the fly, wrote about hard-to-parse, faraway places, and became one of the most distinguished English novelists of the 20th century.
Joseph Conrad? Well, yes. But you might have said Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, a prodigious talent who has brought India alive on page after page of remarkable fiction in the course of the past 60 years. Ironically, Jhabvala is far better known for bringing alive not India, but England and America in the Merchant Ivory films “A Room With a View,” “Howards End,” “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge,” “The Remains of the Day” — a phenomenally successful run of movies for which she was the lead screenwriter. Known for her resonant dialogue, emotional subtlety and deadeye aim, she is a master of narrative no matter what the medium, plucking her stories from a vast store of life.
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