Amitava Kumar

Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair
Headshot of Amitava Kumar

Amitava Kumar is the author, most recently, of a novel entitled My Beloved Life. His last novel, A Time Outside This Time, was described as "a shimmering assault on the Zeitgeist" by the New Yorker magazine. His 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, 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, a Cullman Center Fellowship at the New York Public Library, and residencies from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Lannan Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio. Having started drawing during the pandemic, he has published two books of drawings and diary entries: The Blue Book: A Writer's Journal and The Yellow Book: A Traveler's Diary. He serves on the board for Yaddo, as well as 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

Contact

845-437-5653
Eleanor Butler Sanders Hall
Box 518

Courses

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

Grants, Fellowships, Honors, Awards

Amitava Kumar publishes The Yellow Book: A Traveller’s Diary, a follow-up to The Blue Book.
Amitava Kumar, Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, is author of The Yellow Book: A Traveller’s Diary, “an arresting document of our times, an irresistible peek into a writer and artist’s heart, and a clarion call for hope.”—Udayan Mitra, Executive Publisher, HarperCollins India.

Professor Amitava Kumar is the author of The Blue Book: A Writer’s Journal.
Professor Kumar’s The Blue Book is a mix of original artwork and journal entries reflecting on the COVID pandemic as it unfolded.


Amitava Kumar is a Fellow of the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
Amitava Kumar, Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, is a Fellow of the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Professor Kumar will complete work on a new novel, My Beloved Life, at the Cullman Center.

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.

Photos

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