Sometimes the only way into the heart of a city, with its layers of history and teeming populace, is through the overlooked detail, the back-alley tale, the surreal. In A Matter of Rats, Amitava Kumar offers a sensitive portrait of his hometown Patna, using city’s rat infestation as a entry point into city bureaucracy, history, and the caste system. Uday Prakash’s The Walls of Delhi traces three intertwined stories that capture the city’s corruption and frenetic energy, from a baby’s dangerously-expanding head to a love affair at the Taj Mahal. Valleria Luiselli is debuting with a double-book: her non-fiction ruminations from Mexico City, Sidewalks, with her novel Faces in the Crowd, in which a young mother unearths the work of a Mexican poet and his relation to the Harlem Renaissance.
The Walls of Delhi will be read in Hindi by Uday Prakash and in English by its translator, Jason Grunebaum. The readings will be followed by a discussion with Jonathan Shainin, news editor of newyorker.com.
Amitava Kumar is a novelist, poet, journalist, filmmaker, and Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. He is the author of A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb and Nobody Does the Right Thing: A Novel; Husband of a Fanatic: A Personal Journey through India, Pakistan, Love, and Hate, a New York Times “Editors’ Choice” selection; Bombay—London—New York, a New Statesman (UK) “Book of the Year” selection; and Passport Photos.
Uday Prakash is a writer, journalist, translator, and filmmaker. He has published more than 20 books in Hindi. The Walls of Delhi was a finalist for this year’s DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He is one of the most translated Hindi authors and his writings have been translated into Urdu, English, German and Japanese. His books in English translation are Short Shorts Long Shots, Rage Revelry and Romance, The Girl with the Golden Parasol.
Jason Grunebaum is a Senior Lecturer and Hindi at the University of Chicago. His English translation of Uday Prakash’s The Girl with the Golden Parasol was awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant. His translation of The Walls of Delhi was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and is a finalist for the Jan Michalski Prize.
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983. Her novels and essays have been widely translated and work has been published in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, Review, Granta, and Internazionale. She teaches Creative Writing at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana and is studying for a a PhD in Comparative Literature at Columbia University.
Jonathan Shainin is the news editor of Newyorker.com. Previously, he was senior editor of Caravan. He was a fact-checker for The New Yorker from 2005 to 2007. Shainin was the founding editor of The Review, a supplement to The National in Abu Dhabi. He has also worked at The New York Review of Books and his work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, The Paris Review and more.