Tabish Khair: Indian born Danish professor and writer

“I see myself as belonging to a long tradition of ‘small town cosmopolitanism’, a tradition often overlooked in metropolitan and so-called ‘global’ circles today. I grew up in a small town – Gaya, Bihar – and left it at the age of 24 or 25 for the first time. I worked for four or five years as a staff reporter in Delhi. My parents and brother still live in Gaya. I return to India for long periods. Moreover, I live in a small village off a town in Denmark,” Tabish Khair told Ankit Khandelwal who writes for Times of India.

Tabish Khair is an award-winning poet, journalist, critic, educator and novelist who regularly writes columns for He describes himself as “an Indian writer who writes in English but lives in Denmark.” He did his PhD at Copenhagen University and is now Associate Professor in the Department of English in Aarhus University in the second-largest city of the country.

“I knew exactly three things about Denmark: a land of milk and cheese, H.C. Andersen, and Hamlet. The fourth was a premonition that I would find an Indian or Pakistani taxi-driver outside Kastrup airport in Copenhagen,” he told about his impressions of Denmark under the heading ‘Invisible (Coloured) Ghosts in Denmark’ in Confluence’s May-June issue, 2005.

He also explained that “Indians have been in Copenhagen at least as far back as the 18th century in the form of South Asian seamen who comprised 5-10 per cent of the British maritime labour in the 18th century, rising to 26 per cent by 1938. It was common practice for European ships in South Asian ports to replace European sailors (who had died or deserted) by Lascars who were abandoned once the ship arrived a European prot. In 1782, several Lascars, employed by Danish ships and abandoned, arrived in England and applied to the British East India Company for relief.”


About Tabish Khair
Tabish Khair’s most recent books include ‘How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position’, ‘Man of Glass’ (Poems, Harper Collins), ‘The Thing About Thugs’ (Novel, Harper Collins / Houghton Mifflin) and the co-authored ‘Reading Literature Today’ (Sage). His work has been translated into a dozen languages.
Films: ‘A Love Story’, ‘The Glum Peacock and The Gothic’, ‘Postcolonialism and Otherness’.
He has co-edited ‘Other Routes: 1500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing’.

Tabish Khair’s work is represented by Siyahi – A Literary Consultancy (India) in association with Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates (USA) and Caspian Dennis (UK).

He is a winner of the All India Poetry Prize, and his novels have been shortlisted for the Encore Award (UK), Crossword Vodafone Fiction Prize and Hindu Literature Prize (India), Man Asian Literature Prize (Hong Kong) and for major translation prizes in Denmark and France.

He has been awarded fellowships and academic scholarships by the Baptist University of Hong Kong, Danish Research Agency, Cambridge University and Carlsberg Foundation, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University Grants Commission of India.

Times of India – 11 January 2013:
Keep going and stay true to your original impulse: Tabish Khair
In this interview by Ankit Khandelwal, given by email, Tabish Khair talks about his journey as a writer and his vision behind his work.


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