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Husband of a Fanatic: A Personal Journey Through India, Pakistan, Love, and Hate

Overview

In the summer of 1999, while India and Pakistan were engaged in a war, Amitava Kumar—a Hindu Indian writer living and teaching in the United States—married a Pakistani Muslim woman. That event led to a process of discovery that prompted Kumar to examine the hatreds and intimacies joining Indians and Pakistanis, Hindus and Muslims, fundamentalists and secularists, writers and rioters.

In Husband of a Fanatic, Kumar chronicles the entanglements that his new marriage provoked—from ...

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Overview

In the summer of 1999, while India and Pakistan were engaged in a war, Amitava Kumar—a Hindu Indian writer living and teaching in the United States—married a Pakistani Muslim woman. That event led to a process of discovery that prompted Kumar to examine the hatreds and intimacies joining Indians and Pakistanis, Hindus and Muslims, fundamentalists and secularists, writers and rioters.

In Husband of a Fanatic, Kumar chronicles the entanglements that his new marriage provoked—from ambivalent encounters with family to his disquieting lunch with the amiable bigot who had posted Kumar’s name on his internet blacklist of Hindu traitors. Kumar also travels across the South Asian continent, visiting a classroom in riot-torn Gujarat, a village beside the Ganges, and a psychiatric ward in Kashmir. With a poet’s eye for detail, Kumar draws a map of violence, moving between the wars and nuclear rivalry dividing two nation-states.

Employing elegant and spare prose, Husband of a Fanatic is a fiercely personal reflection on the idea of the enemy.

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Editorial Reviews

Christopher de Bellaigue
In Husband of a Fanatic, his challenging and at times eloquent rumination on Hindu-Muslim tensions in India and its diaspora, Amitava Kumar often summons the dark humor that South Asian secularists use to combat their sense that the battle is not going their way. He opens with his encounter with Jagdish Barotia, a member of the militant group Hindu Unity, who immigrated to the United States over 30 years ago and whose violence of feeling is absurd, even pitiful, because he is doomed to live among Muslims in a multiracial part of Queens. Kumar lets Barotia's grossness stand unadorned and thereby lampoons it. ''On the phone,'' Kumar recalls, ''he had called me a haraami, which means 'bastard' in Hindi, and, after clarifying that he didn't mean this abuse only for me as a person but for everyone else who was like me, he had also called me a kutta, a dog.''
— The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565849266
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Amitava Kumar is the author of Passport Photos and Bombay–London–New York. His writing has appeared in The Nation, Harper’s, American Prospect, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Times of India. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.
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