Amitava Kumar is the author of A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna; Home Products, which was shortlisted for the Crossword Prize; and A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb, which the New York Times described as a ‘perceptive and soulful…meditation on the global war on terror and its cultural and human repercussions’, and received the Page Turner Award. Kumar’s writing has appeared in Caravan, Harper’s, The Guardian, New Yorker, Vanity Fair and the New York Times. His essay ‘Pyre’, first published in Granta, was selected by Jonathan Franzen for Best American Essays 2016. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016. Kumar is Professor of English at Vassar College. His latest book is The Lovers.
V.S. Naipaul’s Finding the Centre was one of the first literary autobiographies I read. Its very first sentence conveyed to me, with its movement and rhythm, a history of repeated striving, and of things coming together, at last, in the achievement of the printed word: “It is now nearly thirty years since, in a BBC room in London, on an old BBC typewriter, and on smooth, ‘non-rustle’ BBC script paper, I wrote the first sentence of my first publishable book.”
I am the father of two beautiful children. They interest me to the point of exhaustion.