Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage

Pankaj Mishra, India

"Culturally speaking, India is much more dependent on the West today than in previous times. The nationalistic faction that split apart from the independence movement had practically been defeated. I belong to a globalized generation and mostly grew up with Russian and European literature. I write for people that have read the same books as me, Flaubert, Turgenev and Chekhov for example, from whom I myself have learned."

Writer, literary critic, and journalist. Pankaj Mishra was born in 1969 in India. His childhood and adolescence were spent in the Northern Indian province of Uttar Pradesh. Mishra first graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the Allahabad University before completing his MA in English Literature at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He wrote his first novel when he was only seventeen years old, and two further novels followed.

In 1992, he moved to Mashobra where he began working as a literary critic for The Indian Review of Books and for the newspaper The Pioneer. His travel book, Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (1995), describes the profound changes taking place in rural Indian towns.

Mishra's first international breakthrough came in 1999 with the publication of his novel The Romantics. The book's main protagonist is a young Brahmin intellectual named Samar, who stumbles upon a group of Western dropouts. The ensuing friendship provides Samar with a fresh, more serious look at life, and he begins an erratic journey in search of himself. The novel was an international success and has been translated into eleven European languages.

Mishra contributes book reviews and political essays to a number of journals, including The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times and the New Statesman. Working as an editor for Harper Collins, he is credited with having discovered Arundhati Roy's exceptional novel The God of Small Things. Mishra has also written introductions to Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India and two volumes of V.S. Naipaul's essays.

In 2004, he published a book about Buddha entitled An End to Suffering: the Buddha in the World. He edited a collection of fiction and essays entitled India in Mind which was published in January 2005. His book of reportage How to be Modern: Travels in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tibet will be published next year.

Pankaj Mishra speaks Urdu, Hindi, and English. He lives between New Delhi, Shimla, and London.

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"The writer figure as it were, the author, is a unique creation of the West, an individual author who goes around and looks, and examines, and incorporates this very diverse experience and becomes an authority on his subject. Those claims are looking increasingly shallow and quite flawed."Pankaj Mishra (jury member 2004 & 2005)