Gaiutra Bahadur

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Gaiutra Bahadur
Author photo of Gaiutra.jpg
New Amsterdam, Guyana
OccupationWriter and journalist
Alma materYale University
Notable workCoolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

Gaiutra Bahadur is an award-winning Guyanese-American writer. She is best known for Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2014.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bahadur was born in rural Guyana and emigrated to the US when she was six years old.[2][3] She grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey and earned her bachelor's degree, with honors in English Literature, at Yale University and her master's degree in journalism at Columbia University.


Before winning a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University when she was 32, she was a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Austin American-Statesman. She has worked as an essayist, literary critic and freelance journalist, contributing to The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, Lapham's Quarterly, Dissent, The Nation, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Boston Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Ms. Magazine and other publications.[2]

Her book Coolie Woman was published in 2013. It is partly a narrative history of indentured women in the Caribbean and partly a family history focusing on her great-grandmother, Sujaria, who left Calcutta for British Guiana in 1903 to work as an indentured plantation labourer.[4] The book was a finalist for the 2014 Orwell Prize and won the Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Prize.[5]



  • Coolie Woman. University of Chicago Press. 2013. ISBN 978-0226034423. Co-published by C. Hurst & Co in the UK, Hachette in India and Jacana in South Africa
  • Family Ties. Scholastic. 2012. ISBN 978-0531225547.



  • "Tales of the Sea". In We Mark Your Memory: Writing from the Descendants of Indenture. The University of London. 2018. ISBN 978-1912250073.
  • "Of Islands and Other Mothers". In Nonstop Metropolis. University of California Press. 2016. ISBN 978-0520285958.
  • "Ogling the Statue of Liberty". In Living on the Edge of the World. Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. 2007. ISBN 978-0743291606.


Select Articles and Essays

Awards and Recognition[edit]

  • Fall 2018 Scholar in Residence, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library
  • 2018 Literary Arts Residency, Bellagio Center, The Rockefeller Foundation[7]
  • 2016-2017 Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow, Hutchins Center, Harvard University[8]
  • 2016 MacDowell Artists Colony Residency[9]
  • 2016 Visiting U.S. Fellow, The Eccles Centre for American Studies, The British Library[10]
  • 2015 Elizabeth Longford Award for Historical Biography, The British Society of Authors[11]
  • 2014 Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Prize, Coolie Woman[12]
  • 2014 Orwell Prize (shortlist), Coolie Woman[1]
  • 2014 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (nonfiction shortlist), Coolie Woman[13]
  • 2013 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship[14]
  • 2012 Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award[15]
  • 2007-2008 Nieman Fellow, Harvard University[16]

External links[edit]