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The first true people's history of modern India, told through a seven-year, 9,000-mile journey along its many contested borders

Sharing borders with six countries and spanning a geography that extends from Pakistan to Myanmar, India is the world's largest democracy and second most populous country. It is also the site of the world's biggest crisis of statelessness, as it strips citizenship from hundreds of thousands of its people--especially those living in disputed border regions.

Suchitra Vijayan traveled India's vast land border to explore how these populations live, and document how even places just few miles apart can feel like entirely different countries.

In this stunning work of narrative reportage--featuring over 40 original photographs--we hear from those whose stories are never told: from children playing a cricket match in no-man's-land, to an elderly man living in complete darkness after sealing off his home from the floodlit border; from a woman who fought to keep a military bunker off of her land, to those living abroad who can no longer find their family history in India.

With profound empathy and a novelistic eye for detail, Vijayan brings us face to face with the brutal legacy of colonialism, state violence, and government corruption. The result is a gripping, urgent dispatch from a modern India in crisis, and the full and vivid portrait of the country we've long been missing.

Suchitra Vijayan was born and raised in Madras, India. Her work has appeared in The Washington PostGQThe Boston ReviewThe Hindu, and Foreign Policy, and she has appeared on NBC news. A Barrister by training, she previously worked for the United Nations war crimes tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda before co-founding the Resettlement Legal Aid Project in Cairo, which gives legal aid to Iraqi refugees. She is an award-winning photographer, the founder and executive director of the Polis Project, a hybrid research and journalism organization. She lives in New York.

Gaiutra Bahadur is an essayist, critic, and journalist who writes regularly on memory, migration, race and ethnicity, and gender. Her book Coolie Woman, a personal history of Indian indenture in the Caribbean, was shortlisted for Britain's Orwell Prize for artful political writing in 2014. A Nieman Fellow at the age of 32, and a former daily newspaper reporter, she writes regularly for The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The New Republic, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. She has won literary residencies at the MacDowell Artists Colony and the Italy's Bellagio Center in Italy and is a two-time winner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Award for Prose. Her work as an independent scholar has been recognized with fellowships at Harvard's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, the Eccles Center for American Studies at the British Library, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. She teaches writing and journalism as an assistant professor at Rutgers-Newark.

Event date: 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

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Midnight's Borders: A People's History of Modern India Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612198583
Availability: Forthcoming - Available for Pre-Order, Check Format + Release Date
Published: Melville House - May 25th, 2021

Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226211381
Availability: Not On Our Shelves - Available to Order
Published: University of Chicago Press - August 4th, 2014