Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra (born 1969) is an Indian essayist and novelist. He is a recipient of the 2014 Windham–Campbell Prize for non-fiction.[1]

Pankaj Mishra
Mishra in Leipzig, March 2014
Born1969 (age 4950)
Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Alma materJawaharlal Nehru University
Allahabad University
Known forThe Romantics
From the Ruins of Empire
Age of Anger
Awards2000 Art Seidenbaum award for Best First Fiction
2013 Crossword Book Award (nonfiction)
2014 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize


Early life

Mishra was born in Jhansi. His father was a railway worker and trade unionist after his family had been left impoverished by post-independence land redistribution.[2][3]


Mishra graduated with a bachelor's degree in commerce from Allahabad University before earning his Master of Arts degree in English literature at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.[4]


In 1992, Mishra moved to Mashobra, a Himalayan village, where he began to contribute literary essays and reviews to The Indian Review of Books, The India Magazine, and the newspaper The Pioneer. His first book, Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (1995), was a travelogue that described the social and cultural changes in India in the context of globalization. His novel The Romantics (2000), an ironic tale of people longing for fulfilment in cultures other than their own, was published in 11 European languages and won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum award for first fiction. This novel, with some autobiographical strains, is a bildungsroman. The narrative begins with the nineteen year old protagonist Samar coming to the city of Varanasi from Allahabad. A large part of the novel, including its end, is set in Varanasi. Gradually, he realizes that the city is a site for mystery.[5] In his quest for knowledge, Samar moves from place to place, but in the closing section he comes back to the city for the last time. Thus, the narrative ends where it had begun. His 2004 book An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World mixes memoir, history, and philosophy while attempting to explore the Buddha's relevance to contemporary times. Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond (2006), describes Mishra's travels through Kashmir, Bollywood, Afghanistan, Tibet, Nepal, and other parts of South and Central Asia. Mishra's book From the Ruins of Empire (2012) examines the question, he says, of "how to find a place of dignity for oneself in this world created by the West, in which the West and its allies in the non-West had reserved the best positions for themselves."[6]

In 2005, Mishra published an anthology of writings on India, India in Mind. His writings have been anthologised in The Picador Book of Journeys (2000), The Vintage Book of Modern Indian Literature (2004), Away: The Indian Writer as Expatriate (2004), and A History of Indian Literature in English (2003), among many other titles. He has introduced new editions of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (Modern Library), E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India (Penguin Classics), J. G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur (NYRB Classics), Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Penguin) and R. K. Narayan’s The Ramayana (Penguin Classics). He has also introduced two volumes of V.S. Naipaul’s essays, The Writer and the World and Literary Occasions.

Mishra has written literary and political essays for The New York Times, where he was a Bookends columnist, the New York Review of Books, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, and the New Yorker, among other American, British, and Indian publications. He is a columnist for Bloomberg View and the New York Times Book Review. His work has also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Boston Globe, Common Knowledge, the Financial Times, Granta, The Independent, the New Republic, the New Statesman, the Wall Street Journal, n+1, The Nation, Outlook, Poetry, Time, The Times Literary Supplement, Travel + Leisure, and The Washington Post. He divides his time between London and India, and is currently working on a novel.[4]

He was the Visiting Fellow for 2007–08 at the Department of English, University College, London, UK. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2008.[7] In November 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 global thinkers.[8] In February 2015, Prospect nominated him to its list of 50 World Thinkers.[9]

In 2011, when Mishra accused Niall Ferguson of racism in a review of his book Civilisation: The West and the Rest in the London Review of Books, Ferguson threatened to sue for libel.[10][11]

In March 2014, Yale University awarded Mishra the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize.[1]




  • Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (1995)
  • The Romantics (2000)
  • An End to Suffering: the Buddha in the World (2004)
  • Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond (2006)
  • From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia (2012)
  • A Great Clamour: Encounters with China and Its Neighbours (2013)
  • Age of Anger: A History of the Present (2017) ISBN 9780374274788

Book Chapters

Edited books

  • India in Mind, edited by Pankaj Mishra (2005)

Essays and reporting


  1. "Indian Writer Pankaj Mishra wins Yale literary Prize for 2014". IANS. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  2. Schuessler, Jennifer (27 August 2012). "Pankaj Mishra's New Book, 'Ruins of Empire'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  3. Mishra, Pankaj (4 February 2006). "Pankaj Mishra: The East was Red". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  4. Pankaj Mishra website.
  5. Mishra, Rajnish (2015). "Psychogeography and the Kashi Texts". Literaria Linguistica: A Journal of Research in Literature, Linguistics and Language Teaching. 1 (1): 63. ISSN 2454-5228.
  6. Hirsh Sawhney (10 December 2012), In Conversation, The Brooklyn Rail, retrieved 2 August 2013
  7. "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  8. Foreign Policy website.
  9. Prospect website.
  10. Harris, Paul (4 May 2013). "Niall Ferguson apologises for anti-gay remarks towards John Maynard Keynes". The Observer. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  11. Mishra, Pankaj (3 November 2011). "Watch this man". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  12. "'Popular choice' ruled at book awards". Times of India. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  13. "Prize Citation for Pankaj Mishra". Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
Reviews and articles
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