Amitava on 06 Feb 2010
Both from Duke University Press, 2010.
A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb: A Writer’s Report on the War on Terror
A Foreigner… is Winner for Nonfiction in the Asian American Literary Awards
A Foreigner... is reviewed by the New York Times. Read more
“A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb” carries in the crook of its own arm Mr. Kumar’s plaintive appeal. If we’re to bridge the perilous divide that separates us from those poor and unnamed people who resent us, we first need to see them, to look into their eyes. We need, Mr. Kumar writes, “to acknowledge that they exist.” This angry and artful book is a first step.
Publishers Weekly gives A Foreigner… a starred review:
A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb
Amitava Kumar, Duke Univ., $21.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-8223-4578-7
Kumar’s searching and humane account of the global consequences of the U.S. “war on terror” gets behind the rhetoric and state public relations campaigns in a brisk but thoughtful narrative. Kumar covers intellectual and artistic responses to American domestic and foreign security policies, including the work of conceptual artist Hasan Elahi, who after being randomly interrogated by the FBI after 9/11, has taken to documenting and uploading to his Web site every move he makes. In his own reportage, Kumar (Husband of a Fanatic) focuses on two legal cases, in whose details, including his own interviews with the defendants, he astutely deconstructs the logic of what he sees as a burgeoning police state and the global order (or disorder) it encourages. The first is that of Hemant Lakhani, a boastful 70-year-old smalltime London clothier arrested in a sting operation delivering a sample shoulder-fired missile to an FBI informant. The other concerns Shahawar Matin Siraj, drawn into a bomb plot by undercover New York police. An arresting and heartrending work of public protest and valuable social analysis, this work contributes forcefully to a subtle, human-scaled accounting of 21st-century geopolitics. (Aug.)
Watch Amitava Kumar (with Robert Baer) on Al Jazeera The Riz Khan Show
Listen to Amitava Kumar discuss A Foreigner on the Leonard Lopate Show
Listen to Amitava Kumar on PRI’s The World
Listen to Amitava Kumar on WBAI, the Asia Pacific Forum
Listen to Amitava Kumar and Hari Kunzru on this Nation Podcast discussing Islamophobia
Interview with the author on WAMC, The Roundtable
Interview with the author, Barnes and Noble Review
Interview with the author in Chronogram
“He writes with the tenderness of a film dissolve, the provocateur’s addiction to being interesting, the scholar’s sense that every thought is only an explanation for another thought, and the empathetic investigator’s ability to trace each clue back to some larger subtext, some larger suffering.” Ken Chen
More praise for A Foreigner:
“…an absolute must-read…” The Christian Science Monitor
“Kumar’s study (think Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side meets Coco Fusco’s protest art) reveals how deeply the figure of the “terrorist” has seeped into our imaginations by brilliantly synthesizing straight reportage—on the Mumbai blasts and the trials of two putative terrorists in New York—and contemporary conceptual art’s responses to ‘the war on terror.” PW Staff Picks 2010
“… A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a worthwhile read. Kumar’s perspective is one not often seen in American writings on similar subjects. That alone would recommend the book; the high quality of the writing should secure its place on any library shelf.” ForeWord
“[Kumar] peels back the stories that we only know by headlines – the Lackawanna Six, the American Taliban – with a novelist’s eye and a reporter’s doggedness… It is when he widens his gaze from the terrorists to the arts, to public speech and to advocacy, in order to highlight the efforts of artists to observe, catalogue and explain – and the efforts of the state to control, coerce and regulate – that his book becomes a truly horrific indictment of post-September 11 “failure of imagination”… Kumar writes that one of his key concerns was to find out ‘how artists and writers, those conventionally regarded as imaginative, would help us disturb the algebra of hate.’ Certainly, his own book is a clear challenge to the ossified discourse on terrorism in the United States.” The National
Read an excerpt from A Foreigner… published in Guernica, August 2010.
Evidence of Suspicion, Picador India, 2010.