LA Review of Books


I’m pleased to share news about Lunch with a Bigot. It was included on a list of Ten Best Books of 2015 Published by an Academic Press. I’m particularly delighted by this excellent piece on the book in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

AMITAVA KUMAR’S collection of essays Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in The World (2015), although organized around the topics “reading,” “writing,” “places,” and “people,” focuses primarily on intimate stories about people who have not been often represented in our media. His essays trouble our desire for intimacy, our desire that others be recognizable, familiar, and our relations with them comfortable, and instead seek parallactic intimacies — he writes stories about others about whom we’ve been silent, and about the “borders of the self.” Interested in blurring the lines between writer and rioter, Kumar finds himself at lunch in Jackson Heights with Jagdish Barotia, a founder of Hindu Unity, a right-wing website dedicated to exposing the menaces in Indian society — Muslims in particular, and even worse in Barotia’s mind, Hindus who marry Muslims — and who had put Kumar on a hit list. As Kumar listens to Barotia call him a haraami (bastard) and kutta (dog), and then give him marriage advice — “you keep fucking her! And through her, you keeping fucking Islam!” — he takes notes. Kumar provides such “details and voice” in part because he believes that “the idea of a faceless enemy is unbearable.” The intimacy he seeks is what Kumar calls a “writer’s problem.”