Emigrant Fictions

with Amitava Kumar and Teju Cole

Monday, September 10, 2018 7:00pm
Asian American Writers' Workshop
112 W 27th St Ste 600
New York, NY 11238

Media Gallery

What national fictions are immigrants in America pressured to preserve, and how does the task of self consciously constructing an immigrant “self” tear at the boundaries of nations and the the novel itself? Blending fiction, nonfiction, diary notations, news clippings and photos, Amitava Kumar’s Immigrant, Montana chronicles the story of Kailash, a graduate student who arrives in New York by way of Bihar, India, who is as equally fascinated by this new landscape as he is his unruly desires. Blending the documentarian impulse of W.G. Sebald with the bawdiness of Philip Roth, “Kumar sets the immigrant novel loose on our beds and base impulses” (The Millions). Join us for a special reading and conversation about the book with Kumar, and Teju Cole, the book’s dedicatee.


In Immigrant, Montana (Knopf, 2018), Amitava Kumar blends elements of fiction and memoir to chronicle Indian immigrant Kailash’s arrival in New York as he pursues a graduate degree and navigates culture clash and various romantic endeavors. Kumar textures the traditional coming-of-age narrative with his wry humor and intellectual references; Viet Thanh Nguyen calls the novel “a beguiling meditation on memory and migration, sex and politics, ideas and art, and race and ambiguity.” Born in Ara, India, Kumar is the author of several books of nonfiction and a novel and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Ford Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists. He lives in Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York, where he is Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. A former AAWW Board Member, Amitava contributed the infamous “Where is your ‘White literature’ section?” piece for The Margins.

Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He is a professor of creative writing at Harvard and the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine. He was born in the US in 1975 to Nigerian parents, and raised in Nigeria. He currently lives in Brooklyn. He is the author of Open City (2011), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Every Day is for the Thief (2014), Known and Strange Things (2016), and most recently, Blind Spot (2017), a book of photographs and texts.

This event will be livestreamed on the Asian American Writers’ Facebook page.

*The space is wheelchair accessible. No stairs. Direct elevator from ground floor to 6th floor.
*We strongly encourage all participants of the space/event to be scent-free.
If you all have any other specific questions about accessibility, please email Tiffany Le at tle@aaww.org with any questions on reserving priority seating.

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