Posts By: Amitava Kumar

Rats in the New York Times

  “A Matter of Rats” calls itself “a short biography of Patna,” the capital city of Bihar, but like Kumar’s other books, it is many (perhaps too many) things at once. A memoiristic essay that strives to reconcile his feelings for his hometown — despair on the one hand and concern on the other, for… Read more »

The Shiver of the Real

I have an article in the latest Caravan on Indian writing in English: The elections had arrived. Each political party presented its manifesto. “Health vans will reach every part of India.” “Necessary legal framework will be created to protect and promote cow and its progeny.” “Every cycle-rickshaw puller will be given an auto-rickshaw or a… Read more »

The Daily Worker’s Chappals

Culture Strike has published a brief adaptation of a section from A Matter of Rats: A couple of days before Independence Day this year, en route to Patna, I met Aman Sethi for dinner at a Delhi restaurant. Sethi is the author of A Free Man, a wonderful account of Ashraf, a daily-wage laborer from… Read more »

In the Light of What We Know

My review of Zia Haider Rahman’s “strange and brilliant” novel in the New York Times Book Review. An excerpt: Zafar’s narration shifts registers — “this fluctuation from crystal clarity of exposition to a barely restrained fury” — and folds into lengthy but fascinating digressions. Like the narrator of W. G. Sebald’s “The Rings of Saturn,”… Read more »

Patna Poems

  I have written before about taking a train to my hometown Patna. This evening I translated two train poems, from Hindi, by the Patna poet Alokdhanwa for @TheTakeaway #ThisIsWhere.   Junction Ah, Junction! Where trains stop for long Collecting water for the rest Of the journey I search there For my old fellow travelers… Read more »

Chronogram Profile

A piece on A Matter of Rats in the Hudson Valley magazine, Chronogram: A Matter of Rats was inspired by E. B. White’s 1949 essay Here Is New York, for which White traveled to Manhattan during a heat wave, staying at the Algonquin Hotel and going on daily foraging trips. Kumar followed his lead, visiting… Read more »

The Place of Place

Download the “Introduction” to A Matter of Rats, entitled “The Place of Place” and written specially for the US edition, here on Scribd. Each book, like a place on a map joined by roads and rivers to other places, is connected to other books. That is certainly true about this books about my hometown, Patna…. Read more »

Choosing My Epitaph

When the Indian edition of A Matter of Rats came out, I was asked during one of my interviews about the epitaph I would choose for myself: Q: What would you like your epitaph to read? AK: He failed often, but look – no one fails all the time. More