Bhanu Kapil

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Speaking at an event at Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania

Bhanu Kapil is a poet, and author 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.[1] She has 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 her work over the course of three days.[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] Her creative work also encompasses performance art and her public readings sometimes blur the line between a traditional 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 one of Time Out New York's most anticipated books of early 2015.[10]

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

In January 2021, Kapil was awarded the 2020 T.S Eliot Poetry Prize for her book: How to Wash a Heart.[12]


  • 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.
  12. ^ "Bhanu Kapil wins TS Eliot poetry prize for 'radical' How to Wash a Heart". The Guardian. 2021-01-24. Retrieved 2021-01-26.