The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation has selected Amitava Kumar, Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English, as one its 2016 fellows. This year, the Foundation awarded 175 fellowships to scholars, artists, and scientists from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants.
The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study, and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the most unique characteristics of the program. In all, fifty scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, seventy-one different academic institutions, twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented by this year’s Fellows, who range in age from thirty-one to eighty-four.
Kumar is a prize-winning author who will use his Guggenheim Fellowship term to work on a project on writing and academic style, Every Day I Write the Book.
Among his books, Lunch with a Bigot was included in a list of “ten best books of 2015 published by university presses”; A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm A Tiny Bomb was adjudged the best nonfiction book of the year by the Page Turner Awards in 2011; in 2007, Home Products was short-listed for India’s premier literary award, the Crossword Award; Husband of a Fanatic was an “Editors’ Choice” book at the New York Times; Bombay-London-New York was on the list of “Books of the Year” in The New Statesman; and Passport Photos won an “Outstanding Book of the Year” award from the Myers Program for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America. Kumar has also edited five books.
His non-fiction and criticism has been published in The New York Times, Granta, NPR, The Nation, Harper’s, Bookforum, The Guardian, Kenyon Review, Vanity Fair, Guernica, New Statesman, Transition, American Prospect, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Toronto Review, Colorlines, Biblio, Outlook, Frontline, India Today, The Hindu, Himal, Herald, The Friday Times, The Times of India and a variety of other venues. In 2013, he collaborated with Teju Cole on an ekphrastic project entitled “Who’s Got the Address?”
Kumar is a board member at the Asian American Writers Workshop. He has been awarded writing residences by Yaddo, Norman Mailer Writing Center, and the Lannan Foundation. He has also been a Barach Fellow at the Wesleyan Writers Festival; he has received awards from the South Asian Journalists Association for three consecutive years, and been the recipient of research fellowships from the NEH, Yale University, SUNY-Stony Brook, Dartmouth College, and University of California-Riverside.
Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, remarked about this year’s Fellows in a written statement, “It’s exciting to name 178 new Guggenheim Fellows. These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.