FORSAKING HER NATIVE India (in which almost all of her novels have been set), Anita Desai here writes of Mexico and, in particular, of a mining town in the far north of the country. In the past, the quest for silver brought huge wealth to a handful of native families and some foreign exploiters. Now the mines have long since either collapsed or been closed.
During tie years of boom at the start of the twentieth century many Welsh miners, no longer able to find employment in their local pits, travelled to these far-off ones. Their lives were brutal. But even more brutal were those of the native miners, described in Alexander von Humboldt's 18