Amitava Kumar presents My Beloved Life, in conversation with Hua Hsu

February 26th
McNally Jackson Seaport
SOLD OUT — email to join the waitlist

An absorbing, exceptionally moving novel that traces the arc of a man’s life, an ordinary life made exceptional by the fact that he has loved and has been loved in turn. 

“What makes a life? My Beloved Life addresses this most fundamental of questions with all of Amitava Kumar’s trademark wisdom and wit. A novel of vaulting ambition and tenderness, about how histories, both personal and national, are built, refracted, and revised.” —Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies

Jadunath Kunwar’s beginnings are humble, even inauspicious. In 1935 in a village near George Orwell’s birthplace, Jadu’s mother, while pregnant with him, nearly dies from a cobra bite. When we see Jadu again, he is in college, meeting the Sherpa who first summited Everest and wondering what it means to be modern. As his life skates between the mythical and the mundane, and as changes big and small sweep across India, Jadu finds meaning in the most unexpected places. He befriends poets and politicians. He becomes a historian. And he has a daughter, Jugnu, a television journalist with a career in the United States—whose own story recasts the past in a new light.

Piercing, fleet-footed, and undeniably resonant, here is a novel from a singularly gifted writer about how we tell stories and write history, how individuals play a counterpoint to big movements, how no single life is without consequence.

“This profound book is full of lives whose beauty lies in the wholeness of their telling. A father, a daughter, a crime, a country being born, a migration, another country, a plague. ‘We are in touch with a great astonishing mystery when we put honest words down on paper to register a life and to offer witness. Everything else is ordinary,’ Kumar writes. His novel offers magnificent witness, and is not ordinary but extraordinary.” —Salman Rushdie

“Kumar unfurls a majestic Indian family saga in successive bildungsroman narratives of a father and daughter . . . A stunning final chapter sheds new light on their stories . . . Kumar excels at blending mysticism and a refined cosmopolitan perspective . . . Readers will find much to savor.” Publishers Weekly 

Amitava Kumar is a writer and journalist who was born in Ara, in India, and now teaches at Vassar College in upstate New York. He is also the author of several works of nonfiction and three novels. His novel Immigrant, Montana was on the best of the year lists in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and President Obama’s list of favorite books of 2018. His new novel A Time Outside This Time was described by the New Yorker magazine as “a shimmering assault on the Zeitgeist.” Kumar's work has appeared in Granta, the New York Times, Harper’s, Guernica, The Nation, and several other publications. The Blue Book: A Writer's Journal, a collection of drawings and diary entries about the pandemic, was recently published by HarperCollins India. Kumar has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship and residencies from Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Lannan Foundation.


Hua Hsu is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning memoir Stay True, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and was a top ten book of 2022 at the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and New York Magazine. He is a staff writer at the New Yorker and a professor of Literature at Bard College. Hsu serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. He was formerly a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at the New York Public Library. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his family.


RSVP Below

In order to keep our events program running in uncertain times, we're asking attendees to hold their place with a $5 voucher, redeemable on the night of the event on any product in store or in our bar & café. If you have a change of heart or plans, write to and we'll gladly refund you and release your spot, up to 24 hours before the event. Thanks for understanding, and for supporting your local bookstore.