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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 Photos; Bombay-London-New York; Husband of a Fanatic; A 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 Magazine, The Nation, The New York Times, The New, Bookforum, Kenyon Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Critical Inquiry, Boston Review, Caravan, The Indian Express, The New Statesman, American 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, MA, Delhi University; MA, Syracuse University; PhD, University of Minnesota
  • At Vassar since 2005


Departments and Programs


  • ENGL 101. The Art of Reading and Writing
  • ENGL 209. Advanced Creative Writing: Narrative

In the Media


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Photo: Don J. Usner