Husband of a Fanatic

Praise for Husband of a Fanatic

Husband of a Fanatic excerpted in Seminar, “Lunch with a bigot

“I went to my high school in Patna, India, and asked kids to write letters to children their own age across the border. Then, I visited my wife’s high school in Karachi, Pakistan, and asked the kids to write letters in response. One student began with charming candor: “Dear Indians, First of all hello!! I am a Pakistani Muslim and I want to inform you that you are liars.” — FROM HUSBAND OF A FANATIC

In ”Husband of a Fanatic,” his challenging and at times eloquent rumination on Hindu-Muslim tensions in India and its diaspora, Amitava Kumar often summons the dark humor that South Asian secularists use to combat their sense that the battle is not going their way. He opens with his encounter with Jagdish Barotia, a member of the militant group Hindu Unity, who immigrated to the United States over 30 years ago and whose violence of feeling is absurd, even pitiful, because he is doomed to live among Muslims in a multiracial part of Queens. Kumar lets Barotia’s grossness stand unadorned and thereby lampoons it. ”On the phone,” Kumar recalls, ”he had called me a haraami, which means ‘bastard’ in Hindi, and, after clarifying that he didn’t mean this abuse only for me as a person but for everyone else who was like me, he had also called me a kutta, a dog.” — Christopher De Bellaigue, The New York Times

“India prides itself on asking big questions, but avoids Kumar’s: what is, and am I, a Hindu? His ambivalent answers are the crucial maneuvers of modernity. Kumar exposes his, and his country’s, complex interiors in this important work of provocation. It requires a political response: a progressive vision of India’s future free of the “medieval machismo” of the “new Hindu.” — Guy-Mannes Abbott, The Independent (UK)

“A courageous work of social and political reportage.” — Pankaj Mishra

“At a time when hatred of Muslims—Islamophobia—is beginning to outstrip even anti-Semitism as the principal modern expression of bigotry and hatred against the Other, Husband of a Fanatic is an important and timely book. It confirms Amitava Kumar as one of the most interesting Indian writers of nonfiction at work today.” – William Dalrymple

Between the Lines interview