New Delhi, March 2022: Penguin Random House India announces the publication of The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, the definitive anthology of Indian poetry in English for the next decade and more. Edited by Booker Prize-shortlisted and Sahitya Akademi Award-winner Jeet Thayil, this extensive selection returns the forgotten figures of Indian poetry to the centre where they belong. To be released on 18 April 2022 under the Hamish Hamilton imprint, this book is currently available on pre-order at all major e-commerce websites.
Jeet Thayil compiled the work of 94 poets for this anthology, the oldest born in 1924 and the youngest in 2001. With the aim of giving readers a deeper understanding of a vast and fluid poetic tradition, this collection brings together writers from across the world, a wealth of voices that present an expansive, encompassing idea of what makes an ‘Indian’ poet.
‘I began work on the first version of this anthology in 2003,’ says Thayil. ‘This final version, twenty years in the making, has a latitude and breadth that makes it essential reading. I think of it as a history of India, a lost or overlooked history of ideas, passion, politics and autobiography.’
The Penguin Book of Indian Poets includes lost, uncollected, or out-of-print poems by major poets, essays that place entire bodies of work into their precise cultural contexts, and a collection of classic black-and-white portraits by Madhu Kapparath. These images, taken over a period of thirty years, form an archive of breathtaking historical scope. They offer the viewer unparalleled intimacy and access to the lives of some of India’s greatest poets.
Commenting on the book, Aparna Kumar, Editor at Penguin Random House India says, ‘It is an honour to publish The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, which has been edited by Jeet Thayil and is an exquisite collection of both canonical and newer names in the Indian poetry landscape. This anthology provides a profound understanding of poetry, its vastness and vitality. I had such a lovely time working on this book and the poems continue to comfort me at a time when the world needs poetry more than ever. I hope they do the same for our readers.’
Meru Gokhale, Publisher, Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India says, ‘Curating a poetry anthology of English-language poets in India is a massive undertaking, one that Jeet Thayil has toiled over for two decades. The result is a definitive work, and I have no doubt that this landmark anthology will find a home on the shelves and in the hearts of every single poetry lover in this country.’
About the editor
Jeet Thayil was born into a Syrian Christian family in Kerala. As a boy he travelled through much of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia with his father, TJS George, a writer and editor. He worked as a journalist for twenty-one years, in Bombay, Bangalore, Hong Kong and New York City. In 2005 he began to write fiction. The first instalment of his Bombay Trilogy, Narcopolis, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and became an unlikely bestseller. His book of poems These Errors Are Correct won the Sahitya Akademi Award (India’s National Academy of Letters), and his musical collaborations include the opera Babur in London. His essays, poetry and short fiction have appeared in the New York Review of Books, Granta, TLS, Esquire, The London Magazine, The Guardian and Alexander, among other venues. His most recent novel is Names of the Women.