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Daisy Rockwell Interviews Amitava Kumar

Novelist, artist, translator Daisy Rockwell brings her many hats to her interview with the equally multi-hatted Amitava Kumar (though Rockwell does not open the ‘authenticity’ door 🙂

“In his new book A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna, author Amitava Kumar writes about his hometown, Patna, in Bihar, India. Not meant to be a comprehensive history, it’s a slim volume that attempts to capture not just the spirit of a city, but also Kumar’s ambivalent relationship to Patna, as an emigré with pangs of guilt for having left. I found the book was witty, thought-provoking, and eminently readable, but I still had many questions for the author, and so I contacted him for an interview, and he graciously accepted.

Your hometown of Patna, in India, is the kind of place that people want to leave, if they can, and have trouble feeling proud of. Is there an equivalent city or region in the United States that would help American readers get an idea of what Patna is like?

You remember what James Carville said about Pennsylvania? It has Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in the middle. When I heard that remark, I was living in State College, PA. At first I chuckled, and then I stopped. I began to wonder, if he’s saying this about State College, PA, what would he say about Patna.”

read rest here

* on an added note, I’m looking foward to reading Rockwell’s translation writer Upendranath Ashk’s short story collection “Hats and Doctors.”

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