22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Pankaj Mishra

Portrait Pankaj Mishra
© Ali Ghandtschi

Pankaj Mishra was born in the northern Indian town of Jhansi in 1969. After studying commerce at the University of Allahabad, he graduated with a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He began to write reviews for newspapers such as »The Indian Review of Books« and »The Pioneer«, and subsequently wrote literary essays, reviews and op-ed columns for American and British publications, such as the »The New York Times«, »The Guardian«, »Harper’s«, »The New Yorker«). He worked as an editor, and supported Arundhati Roy when she was looking for a publisher for »The God of Small Things«.

He debuted with the travelogue »Butter Chicken in Ludhiana« (1995), which takes a closer look at the socio-cultural changes taking place in India in the context of progressive globalization. In his first novel »The Romantics« (2000), the narrator, a young literature enthusiast, is confronted by the different views of India held by a group of tourists who have traveled there to find themselves. »An End to Suffering« (2004) looks at the life and relevance of Buddha to our time. In 2005, Mishra published the anthology »India in Mind«, with texts by Bruce Chatwin, Allen Ginsberg, Hermann Hesse, Peter Matthiessen and Gore Vidal among others. After revealing the paradoxes and pressures of Western-oriented modernity in South and Central Asia in »Temptations of the West« (2006), and in the much-celebrated »From the Ruins of Empire. The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia« (2012), whose narrative spans two hundred years, he goes on to explore the binary differentiation between East and West from an Asian perspective using the biographies of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Liang Qichao and Rabindranath Tagore. More recently Mishra wrote »A Great Clamour. Encounters with China and Its Neighbours« (2013), an analysis of the influence exerted by the superpower China, based on impressions gained while traveling in neighboring countries, such as Indonesia and Taiwan. In an essay published in December 2015 in the »Süddeutsche Zeitung«, in response to the threat of terrorism Mishra argues the case for rediscovering our tradition of self-criticism »that did indeed once distinguish and enlighten the West«.

In 2013, Mishra won the Crossword Book Award for Best Nonfiction, and in 2014 the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding and the Campbell Literature Prize from Yale University. He lives in London and Mashobra.


Watch Pankaj Mishra at the 20th ilb on our YouTube-Channel:


Unterwegs zum Buddha

Sein Leben, seine Lehre, seine Wirkung


München, 2005 [Ü: Giovanni und Ditte Bandini]

Die Romantischen


Frankfurt a. M., 2008 [Ü: Barbara Schaden]

Lockruf des Westens

Modernes Indien


Berlin, 2011 [Ü: Matthias Wolf]

Aus den Ruinen des Empires

Die Revolte gegen den Westen und der Wiederaufstieg Asiens

S. Fischer

Frankfurt a. M., 2013 [Ü: Michael Bischoff]

Begegnungen mit China und seinen Nachbarn

S. Fischer

Frankfurt a. M., 2015 [Ü: Michael Bischoff]

Das Zeitalter des Zorns

Eine Geschichte der Gegenwart

S. Fischer

Frankfurt a. M., 2017 [Ü: Michael Bischoff, Laura Su Bischoff]