Amitava Kumar

Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair

Amitava Kumar is the author, most recently, of a novel entitled A Time Outside This Time (forthcoming from Knopf in the US, Picador in the UK, and in translation elsewhere). His last novel, Immigrant, Montana, was named among the “notable books of the year” by the New York Times and also the “best books of the year” by the New Yorker. President Barack Obama included it among his favorite books of the year. Kumar has written several works of literary non-fiction, including the prize-winning book A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb, described by the New York Times as a “perceptive and soulful” meditation on “the cultural and human repercussions” of the global war on terror. His other titles include Passport PhotosBombay-London-New YorkHusband of a FanaticA Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna; Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in the World; and, most recently, Every Day I Write the Book. Kumar’s first novel, Home Products, was short-listed for India’s premier literary award and republished in the US under the title Nobody Does the Right Thing. His writings have appeared in Harper’s MagazineThe NationThe New York TimesThe New Yorker.comBookforum, Kenyon ReviewThe Chronicle of Higher EducationCritical InquiryBoston ReviewCaravanThe Indian ExpressThe New StatesmanAmerican Prospect, and numerous other venues. “Pyre,” an essay first published in Granta, was chosen by Jonathan Franzen for The Best American Essays 2016. Kumar is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists fellowship, and residencies from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Lannan Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio. He serves on the editorial board of several publications and is the script-writer and narrator of two documentary films: “Pure Chutney” (1997) and “Dirty Laundry” (2005). Professor Kumar teaches classes that mainly deal with: reportage; the essay-form, both in prose and film; cities; literatures describing the global movement of goods and people; war; memory-work.

BA, University of Delhi; MA, Syracuse University; MA, University of Delhi; PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
At Vassar since 2005


Eleanor Butler Sanders Hall
Box 518


AMST/ENGL 203 These American Lives: New Journalisms
ENGL 101 The Art of Reading and Writing

Grants, Fellowships, Honors, Awards

Professor Amitava is the author of “The Blue Book,” a writer’s journal.
Professor Kumar’s “The Blue Book” is a writer’s journal, a mix of original artwork and journal entries reflecting on the COVID pandemic as it unfolded.

In the Media

Amitava Kumar, Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, was interviewed about memory and the written word.

Amitava Kumar, Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, wrote a Chronogram piece about the neighborhood grocery store My Market.

Immigrant, Montana, the latest novel by Amitava Kumar, Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, was selected as one of the best books of 2018 by the New Yorker.

Amitava Kumar wrote a Baffler story about his experiences as a writer wandering between fact and fiction.

Amitava Kumar penned a Chronicle of Higher Education article about the book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.


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Amitava Kumar
Don J. Usner