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Pankaj Mishra

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Pankaj Mishra
Mishra in Leipzig, March 2014
Born (1969-02-09) 9 February 1969 (age 55)
Alma materJawaharlal Nehru University
University of Allahabad
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


Pankaj Mishra FRSL (born 9 February 1969) is an Indian essayist, novelist, and socialist. His non-fiction works include Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond, along with From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia, and A Great Clamour: Encounters with China and Its Neighbours, and he has published two novels. He is a Bloomberg opinion columnist, and prolific contributor to other periodicals such as The Guardian, The New York Times, The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. His writings have led to a number of controversies, including disputes with Salil Tripathi, Niall Ferguson and Jordan Peterson. He was awarded the Windham–Campbell Prize for non-fiction in 2014.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Mishra was born in Jhansi, India. 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 the University of Allahabad before earning his Master of Arts degree in English literature at 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, Samar realizes that the city is a site for mystery.[5]

Mishra's book An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World (2004) 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. Responding in The Guardian to an article by Mishra in connection with this work, Salil Tripathi criticised Mishra's defence of Indian and Chinese economic policies from the period 1950–80, claiming that they had stifled economic growth.[6] Mishra's 2012 book, From the Ruins of Empire, examines the question 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."[7]

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 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 magazine, 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.[8] In November 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 global thinkers.[9] In February 2015, Prospect nominated him to its list of 50 World Thinkers.[10]

In 2011, Niall Ferguson threatened to sue Mishra for libel after Mishra published a review of his book Civilisation: The West and the Rest in the London Review of Books. Ferguson claimed that Mishra accused him of racism.[11][12]

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

In an article published on 19 March 2018 in the New York Review of Books titled "Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism", Mishra wrote that Canadian clinical psychologist and author Jordan Peterson's activities with Charles Joseph, a native member of the coastal Pacific Kwakwakaʼwakw tribe in Canada, "...may seem the latest in a long line of eggheads pretentiously but harmlessly romancing the noble savage."[13] Peterson perceived Mishra's use of the phrase "romancing the noble savage" as a racist insult to his friend Joseph, and his response via Twitter, which included a threat of violence to Mishra, went viral.[14]

Run and Hide, Mishra's first novel in 20 years, was published in 2022 to a generally positive reception,[15][16][17] with Allan Massie in The Scotsman concluding: "This is a wonderfully rich and enjoyable novel. It is very much, and disturbingly, of our time.... Intellect, observation memory, sympathy and imagination are all happily here. The novel can be read quickly for sheer pleasure. It is a work for our time and one that will surely be read many years on for what will then be its historical interest. So: a novel built to last."[18][19]

Personal life[edit]

Mishra married Mary Mount, a London book editor, in 2005.[20] She is daughter of the writer Sir Ferdinand Mount, 3rd Baronet, and a cousin of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron.[21][22][23] Mishra has been critical of Cameron's politics[24] and has stated "It may seem to people like we're having dinner together practically every night, but I've never met the man; my wife has met him once in her life. Neither of us share his politics", calling Cameron "a ghastly figure".[25]

Awards and recognition[edit]



  • Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (1995)
  • The Romantics (2000)
  • An End to Suffering: the Buddha in the World (2004)
  • India in Mind, edited by Pankaj Mishra (2005)
  • 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
  • Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race, and Empire (2020), ISBN 9780374293314
  • Run and Hide (2022), ISBN 9780374607524

Book chapters[edit]

Essays and reporting[edit]

Book reviews[edit]

Year Review article Work(s) reviewed
2007 Mishra, Pankaj (28 June 2007). "Impasse in India". The New York Review of Books. 54 (11): 48–51. Nussbaum, Martha (2007). The clash within : democracy, religious violence, and India's future. Belknap Press/Harvard University Press.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Indian Writer Pankaj Mishra wins Yale literary Prize for 2014". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. 10 March 2014. 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. ^ a b 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. ^ "Escaping the 'Hindu rate of growth'". The Guardian. 13 June 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  7. ^ Sawhney, Hirsh (10 December 2012). "In Conversation". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  9. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. 26 November 2012.
  10. ^ "World Thinkers 2015". Prospect.
  11. ^ Harris, Paul (4 May 2013). "Niall Ferguson apologises for anti-gay remarks towards John Maynard Keynes". The Observer. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  12. ^ Mishra, Pankaj (3 November 2011). "Watch this man". London Review of Books. 33 (21). Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  13. ^ Mishra, Pankaj (19 March 2018). "Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism". The New York Review.
  14. ^ Malik, Nesrine (23 March 2018). "Sorry, Jordan Peterson: rage isn't a great look for a self-help guru". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Chakraborty, Abhrajyoti (14 February 2022). "Run and Hide by Pankaj Mishra review – new India, old ideas". The Guardian.
  16. ^ Parakala, Vangmayi (19 February 2022). "The return of Pankaj Mishra, the novelist". Mint Lounge. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  17. ^ Tandon, Bharat (4 March 2022). "Caste away". TLS. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  18. ^ Massie, Allan (24 February 2022). "Book review: Run And Hide, by Pankaj Mishra". The Scotsman.
  19. ^ Cook, Jude (19 February 2022). "Inside New India: Run and Hide, by Pankaj Mishra, reviewed". The Spectator. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  20. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (28 August 2012). "New Book in Battle Over East vs. West". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (27 August 2012). "New Book in Battle Over East vs. West". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  22. ^ Merchant, Minhaz. "A storm in a literary cup". The Times of India. ISSN 0971-8257. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  23. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (27 August 2012). "New Book in Battle Over East vs. West". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  24. ^ Mishra, Pankaj (17 January 2019). "Opinion | The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  25. ^ "The Village Interview: Pankaj Mishra". 14 March 2017.
  26. ^ "The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ "'Popular choice' ruled at book awards". The Times of India. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Book prize for Indian historian". DE magazine Deutschland. 26 March 2014.
  29. ^ "Prize Citation for Pankaj Mishra". Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. 7 March 2014. Archived from the original on 1 April 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  30. ^ "José María Ridao guanya el cinquè premi internacional d'assaig Josep Palau i Fabre". Ara (in Catalan). 28 February 2014.

External links[edit]

Reviews and articles