The laser-sharp intelligence of award-winning novelist and short story writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is etched into these 17 compelling tales, which are drawn from previous collections. Jhabvala, who died in 2013, was also a prolific screenwriter (winning Oscars for adaptations of A Room With a View and Howards End), and her cinematic eye roams widely, from Indian village life to the streets of European cities and New York. Desai describes how Jhabvala explores passion’s “immense potential for both joy and destruction”. Such emotions range from the pining of an elderly woman for a younger man in The Widow to a fear of loneliness in Great Expectations. The writer’s talent is best on display in the tension she creates between the pleasures and pains of passion and the slick composure of her prose.
• At The End of the Century by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is published by Little, Brown (£20). To order a copy for £17 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99