Bhanu Kapil

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Bhanu Kapil is a poet. She is the author of a number of books, including The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (2001), Incubation: A Space for Monsters (2006), and Ban en Banlieue (2015).


Kapil's first book, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, was written in the late 1990s and was submitted to Kelsey Street Press by a friend of hers. Khapil has noted that "Left to my own devices, the whole manuscript would be . . . trash. A kind of note-taking never made public."[1] From an early age, she had an interest in becoming a writer, and cited Salman Rushdie's 1980 Booker Prize win as a formative experience for her: "...perhaps then, for the first time, I understood that someone like me: could. Could look like me and write.".[2] In early 2015, The Believer held a round-table discussion of Bhanu Kapil's work over the course of three days, featuring writers like Kate Zambreno and Sofia Samatar.[3]

Kapil's work can be difficult to classify, occupying a space between poetry and fiction. 2009's Humanimal: A Project for Future Children took its inspiration from the nonfiction account of Amala and Kamala, two girls found "living with wolves in colonial Bengal."[4] Douglas A. Martin has described Incubation: A Space For Monsters as "a feminist, post-colonial On the Road."[5] Kapil also contributed the introduction to Amina Cain's short story collection I Go To Some Hollow.[6] Kapil's creative work also encompasses performance art and her public readings sometimes blur the line between the traditional poetry reading and performance.[7] Her poetry appeared in a collection edited by Brian Droitcour that was produced as part of the New Museum's 2015 Triennial.[8]

Incubation: A Space for Monsters was a Small Press Distribution best-seller.[9] Ban en Banlieue was named as one of Time Out New York's most anticipated books of early 2015[10]

In March 2020 Kapil was awarded one of the eight Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes.[11]


  • The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, Kelsey Street Press, 2001, ISBN 9780932716569
  • Incubation: A Space for Monsters, Leon Works, 2006, ISBN 9780976582021
  • Humanimal: A Project for Future Children, Kelsey Street Press, 2009, ISBN 9780932716705
  • Schizophrene, Nightboat Books, 2011, ISBN 9780984459865
  • Ban en Banlieue, Nightboat Books, 2015, ISBN 9781937658243
  • How to Wash a Heart, Liverpool University Press, 2020, ISBN 9781789621686


  1. ^ Sanders, Katherine (September 22, 2011). "Bhanu Kapil". BOMB Magazine.
  2. ^ Saifi, Rowland (April 18, 2012). "Unfold is the wrong word: An Interview with Bhanu Kapil". HTML Giant.
  3. ^ "Reading Bhanu Kapil: Day 1: In Conversation". The Believer. February 18, 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  4. ^ Luczajko, Stephanie. "An Interview with Bhanu Kapil". Tinge Magazine.
  5. ^ "Reading Bhanu Kapil". The Believer. February 17, 2015. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015.
  6. ^ "I Go To Some Hollow". Les Figues Press.
  7. ^ "Reading Bhanu Kapil: Day 3: Collectively Reading Bhanu Kapil's Ban en Banlieue". The Believer. February 19, 2015. Archived from the original on February 21, 2015.
  8. ^ "2015 TRIENNIAL: SURROUND AUDIENCE". New Museum.
  9. ^ Garner, Dwight (July 20, 2008). "TBR: Inside the List". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Gilbert, Tiffany (December 28, 2015). "The Most Anticipated Books of Early 2015". Time Out New York.
  11. ^ Flood, Alison (2020-03-19). "Eight authors share $1m prize as writers face coronavirus uncertainty". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-03-20.