Fiction and lies stir Immigrant, “Montana” author Amitava Kumar

Charlie Smith in the Georgia Straight:

Novelist, poet, and essayist Amitava Kumar has often pondered the differences between a writer and a rioter.

The Indian-born Vassar College professor of English is well aware of how demagogues can provoke violence.

It’s occurred on several occasions in his country of origin: in 1984 with a pogrom targeting Sikhs, in 1992 with communal riots following the demolition of a mosque in Ayodhya, and in 2002 with a massacre of Muslims in the western state of Gujarat.

“What sets people’s imagination afoot so that they go crazy and burn down a neighbourhood?” Kumar asked in a recent phone interview with the Georgia Straight. “What is said by the person holding a megaphone inciting a crowd, or what is said by someone who incites a rumour? And what is the difference between that person and me, sitting in my room imagining something, telling a story?”

More here.