Tabish Khair

(1966 - / Gaya / India)

Biography of Tabish Khair

Tabish Khair poet

Tabish Khair (Hindi: ताबिश खैर) is an Indian English author and associate professor in the Department of English, University of Aarhus in Denmark.

His books include Babu Fictions (2001), The Bus Stopped (2004), which was shortlisted for the Encore Award (UK) and The Thing About Thugs (2010), which has been shortlisted for a number of prizes, including the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the Man Asian Literary Prize.

Birth and Early Life

Khair was born in Ranchi (then part of Bihar, now the capital of Jharkhand) and grew up in his hometown, Gaya, a small but historically-significant town in Bihar, India.

Khair finished secondary school from the local Nazareth Academy and, after dropping out of medical studies, went on to do a BA in History, Sociology and English from Gaya College and a Masters in English from the local Magadh University. While a college student, he also worked as the district reporter for the Patna Edition of the Times of India. Later, following some trouble with local fundamentalists, he left for Delhi, where he worked as a Staff Reporter for the Times of India.

Literary Career

Khair had his first collection of poems, 'My World', accepted for publication by a major national house (Rupa & Co., Delhi) before he left his hometown. It was favourably reviewed by senior poets and critics like Keki N. Daruwalla, Adil Jussawalla, Vilas Sarang and Shiv K. Kumar. While in Delhi, Khair brought out two other collections and started working on his first novel, 'An Angel in Pyjamas', which was later published by Harper Collins and described by India Today as "the calling card of a writer with the power to fascinate."

After about four years as a staff reporter, Khair left for Copenhagen, Denmark, to do a PhD, which he completed in 2000. It was published as 'Babu Fictions' by Oxford University Press in 2001 (a paperback edition came out in 2005) and has since become one of the important secondary texts on Indian English fiction.

In 2000, Khair also published a collection of poems, 'Where Parallel Lines Meet' (Penguin), which is considered to be "one of the most significant collections in recent years by an Indian writing in English." It included poems for which he had won the prestigious All India Poetry Prize.

Khair's second novel, 'The Bus Stopped', was published by Picador in 2004. Along with novels by Hari Kunzru and Nadeem Aslam, it was short-listed for the Encore Award (UK). Khair has also co-edited various books and journals, including a casebook of essays on Amitav Ghosh (Permanent Black, Delhi) and 'Other Routes', an anthology of pre-1900 Asian and African travel writing, with a foreword by Amitav Ghosh (Signal Books, Oxford, and Indiana UP).

Tabish Khair's Works:


Man of Glass, Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2010.
Where Parallel Lines Meet, Penguin-Viking, New Delhi, Allen Lane, New York, 2000.


Filming: A Love Story, Picador, London and New Delhi, 2007.
The Bus Stopped, Picador, London and New Delhi, 2004.
Babu Fictions: Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Novels, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001.
An Angel in Pyjamas, Harper Collins, New Delhi, 1996.
The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness: Ghosts from Elsewhere, 6. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 2009.

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Nurse's Tales, Retold

Because the east wind bears the semen smell of rain,
A warm smell like that of shawls worn by young women
Over a long journey of sea, plain and mountains,
The peacock spreads the Japanese fan of its tail and dances,
And dances until it catches sight of its scaled and ugly feet.

Because the koel cannot raise its own chicks —
Nature's fickle mother who leaves her children on doorsteps
In the thick of nights, wrapped in controversy and storm —

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