Lethal Heat

I have a piece in The Guardian on the election results asking if we can have democracy if temperatures continue to rise.

The crucial point to be noted here is that the heat did not figure at all among the thundering sentiments delivered from the dais by the candidates. The prominent environmentalist Ashish Kothari told me that the “full dimensions of the climate crisis” had escaped both the BJP’s and Congress’s manifestos. In the face of such silence, it fell on the Delhi High Court to warn of the effects of global warming this past week: The court warned that Delhi could soon turn into “a barren desert.”

More here.

Please check out my Substack “Beat the Heat” where I have also included this lovely document from Ravish:


Translation: “With all their remaining strength, the common people have built an opposition and erected our parliament. This creation of the opposition is the people’s mandate. 2024 has given a gift to Bapu’s and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s dreams for our democracy. It has given us an opposition.” Ravish Kumar


Without Death, There is No Art


In which I reveal all my secrets. How did I come to write My Beloved Life. For @Scroll.

The last exchange I had with my father was on the morning of March 7 last year. That same morning, I had learned from a phone call that I had been awarded a fellowship at the Cullman Center in the New York Public Library. For the previous twenty-four hours, due to reasons that were not clear to anyone, my father had been unwell.


India Votes



My little paean to current Indian politics is presented during this interview with Al Jazeera.

A few days ago an Indian newspaper asked if I could recommend a literary text that shed light on Indian elections.  I wrote back that in my new novel My Beloved Life, I have put a scene that is a classic in Hindi literature, from Harishankar Parsai’s Inspector Matadeen Chand Par (1994), or Inspector Matadeen on the Moon. The father and daughter duo who narrate my novel are on their way to a restaurant in Atlanta. The father is talking bitterly about politicians in Hindi, his voice growing louder as he quotes Parsai, delivering his lines as if at a kavi-sammelan. Even as I imagined the scene, I felt I was paying homage to a writer whose deft satires gave his readers a small measure of agency. A political system that left them helpless could not take away from them the freedom of laughter. Here is what the father recites:




An Ordinary Life

Sometimes the book you write finds the right reader. Here is the great James Wood in the New Yorker magazine lavishing generous, insightful attention on my new novel, My Beloved Life. Excerpting a few lines from the essay:

Above all, his new novel is always deeply human; the heart is everywhere in these pages. It is easily the best thing Amitava Kumar has written, largely because the novelist relaxes into the novelistic, and trusts the tale rather than the teller. Its astonishing details sit in the text like little coiled stories, pointedly revealed but not overpoweringly unpacked by the writer.



How to Be Rich in Love

The book-buyer for the Center for Fiction posted a review calling My Beloved Life “a rare find” but what I liked most of all was the part where after quoting Jadu, one of my protagonists, who says about himself, “I am, by profession, poor,” the reviewer adds, “But Jadu is rich in love.”

During this pub. week that has just ended, I too have been rich in love.

Read more on my SubStack.


Writing a Novel with Pictures

A painting titled “This is Father” by the famous Indian artist Atul Dodiya. This image had been in my mind when I was writing what became My Beloved Life. I go over this connection, and others, in a piece I wrote for Hazlitt magazine. As I say in the piece somewhere, to incorporate photographs and paintings in my fiction has always seemed to me a bit like “smuggling contraband in from the realm of the actual.” Read the whole piece here.