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Immigrant, Montana

Amitava Kumar

An explosive, genre-defying reinvention of the ‘immigrant’ novel from Amitava Kumar.

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One winter morning, a monkey stole into Mamaji’s room. He climbed on the huge white bed and finding Mamaji’s pistol brandished it — they say — at my cousin, born two months after me and still in her crib. No one moved. Then, turning the pistol around, the primate brain prompting the opposable thumb to grasp the trigger, the monkey blew his brains out.

Meet Kailash. AKA Kalashnikov. Or AK-47. Or just plain AK. His journey from India has taken him to graduate school in New York where he keeps falling in love: not only with women – Jennifer, Nina, Cai Yan – but with literature and radical politics, the fuel of youthful exuberance. Each heady affair brings new learning: about himself, about America, and his relationship to a country founded on immigration, but a country that is now unsure of the migrant’s place in the nation’s fabric. How do you educate yourself in belonging when you are in a constant state of exile?

Immigrant, Montana is the story of AK’s sentimental education. His intellectual, emotional, and romantic journey gives the book a new narrative form, one that thrillingly reinvents the campus and postcolonial novel through wry, comic intelligence. A sharp cultural satire for a generation losing an ideological sense of itself, Immigrant, Montana is erotic and tender, provocative and playful – a meditation on courage and endeavour, and what it takes to truly be heroic.

Critic Reviews

Immigrant, Montana is a delight.

Hanif Kureishi
Critic Reviews

Immigrant, Montana is a beguiling meditation on memory and migration, sex and politics, ideas and art, and race and ambiguity. Part novel, part memoir, this book is as sly, charming, and deceptive as its passionate protagonist, a writer writing himself into being.

Viet Thanh Nguyen
Critic Reviews

Amitava Kumar's new novel brings to mind W. G. Sebald's work, but Kumar has a deeper curiosity in the borderless-ness of storytelling as a confrontation to all kinds of borders imposed upon his characters by the external and the artificial, as we see more and more in today's world. Audacious in its scope yet with refreshing attention to detail, Immigrant, Montana is one of those novels that, with each rereading, a reader will unlock another treasure box of joy.

Yiyun Li
Critic Reviews

A bold and provocative counter-narrative: an insider novel that takes occasional pride in its opacity, winking across the room at lit-crit students, developing world feminists and pre-millennial Indians ... Disarming honesty ... Artfully narrated ... Polyphonic and digressive, it is more an essay novel than an autofiction ... This novel fearlessly unmasks some great men, making political stalwarts and revolutionaries stumble down from their pedestals.

Meena Kandasamy, Guardian
Critic Reviews

Consistently entertaining ... The relationship between fact and fiction provides an animating tension ... Considerable wit.

New York Times
Critic Reviews

Droll and exhilarating ... Consistently surprising and hilarious ... An inventive delight, perfectly pitched to omnivorous readers.

Publisher's Weekly