Githa Hariharan

    Githa Hariharan was born in Coimbatore, India, and she grew up in Bombay and Manila. She was educated in these two cities and later in the United States. She got a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in English Literature and Psychology from Bombay University, 1974; and a Master of Arts in Communications from the Graduate School of Corporate and Political Communication, Fairfield University, Connecticut, 1977. She worked as a staff writer in WNET-Channel 13 in New York, and from 1979 to 1984, she worked as an editor in the Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi offices of Orient Longman, where she was responsible for the social science, fiction and women’s studies lists. From 1985 to 2005, she worked as a freelance professional editor for a range of academic institutions and foundations. She is, at present, a writer based in New Delhi.

    In 1995, Hariharan challenged the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act as discriminatory against women. The case, Githa Hariharan and Another vs. Reserve Bank of India and Another, led to a Supreme Court judgment in 1999 on guardianship.

    Githa Hariharan’s published work includes novels, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and columns. Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best first book in 1993. Her other novels include The Ghosts of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), In Times of Siege (2003), and Fugitive Histories (2009). A collection of highly acclaimed short stories, The Art of Dying, was published in 1993, and a book of stories for children, The Winning Team, in 2004. She edited a volume of stories in English translation from four major South Indian languages, A Southern Harvest (1993); and co-edited a collection of stories for children, Sorry, Best Friend! (1997).  Hariharan has also edited and contributed to a collection of essays entitled From India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity (2014). Her new book is a collection of her own essays, Almost Home: Cities and Other Places (2014).

    Hariharan’s fiction has been translated into a number of languages including French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, Urdu and Vietnamese; her essays and fiction have also been included in anthologies such as Salman Rushdie’s Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997. She wrote a monthly column for many years on different aspects of culture and their political and social underpinnings, in The Telegraph, Kolkata. She has been Visiting Professor or Writer-in-Residence in several universities, including Dartmouth College and George Washington University in the United States, the University of Canterbury at Kent in the UK, the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Jamia Millia Islamia in India. She is, at present Visiting Professor at Goa University.

    Publication details


    • The Thousand Faces of Night, Penguin India, 1992; The Women’s Press, London 1996; Editions Zoe, Geneva 1996; Van Gennep, Amsterdam 1996; Ediciones del Bronce, Barcelona 2000; Philippe Picquier, Paris, 2006; Women Publishing House, Hanoi, 2008.
    • The Art of Dying and Other Stories, Penguin India, 1993.
    • The Ghosts of Vasu Master, Viking, Penguin India, 1994.
    • When Dreams Travel, Picador UK, Picador India, 1999; Empiria, Athens 2001; Penguin India, 2008.
    • In Times of Siege, Viking, Penguin India 2003; Pantheon, New York, 2003; Vintage, New York, 2004; Mashal Books, Lahore, 2004; Editions Zoe, Geneva, 2006; Il Saggiatore, Milan, 2007.
    • The Winning Team, Rupa, New Delhi, 2004.
    • Fugitive Histories, Viking, Penguin India, 2009.
    • Almost Home: Cities and Other Places, Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, New Delhi, 2014, Restless Books, 2016, forthcoming.

    Edited collections

    • A Southern Harvest (ed.), Katha-Rupa, New Delhi, 1993.
    • Sorry, Best Friend! (co-edited with Shama Futehally), Tulika, Chennai, 1997. Also in Hindi and Tamil translation.
    • From India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity (ed.), LeftWord, New Delhi, 2014.

    Contributions: short fiction/extracts

    • “The Reprieve” in The Indian P.E.N., Vol. 50, No 10-12, October-December 1989, Mumbai.
    • “Retrospective” in Indian Literature, No. 141, January-February 1991, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
    • “Halfway Animals” in Stand Magazine, All fiction issue eds. Jon Silkin and Lorna Tracy, Winter 1992, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1992.
    • “Field Trip” in Writing Women, Vol. 8, Nos. 2 & 3, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1992.
    • “Revati” in Kunapipi, Vol. XIV, No. 1, 1992.
    • “The Art of Dying” in Kunapipi, Vol XV, No. 3, 1993.
    • “The Remains of the Feast” in In Other Words, New Writing by Indian Women, eds. Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon, Kali for Women, New Delhi 1992, The Women’s Press, 1993, dtv, 1995.
    • “The Remains of the Feast” in Into the Nineties, Post-Colonial Women’s Writing, eds. Anna Rutherford and Shirley Chew, Dangaroo Press, 1994.
    • “The Warden” in Conjunctions, Critical Mass, ed. Bradford Morrow, vol. 24, Bard, New York, 1995.
    • The Remains of the Feast” in The New Internationalist, No. 264, Ageing with Attitude, February 1995, Oxford.
    • “The Remains of the Feast” in The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, ed. John Thieme, Arnold, London, 1996.
    • The Remains of the Feast” in Feast! Women Write About Food, eds. Laurie Critchely and Helen Windrath, The Women’s Press, London, 1996.
    • “from The Ghosts of Vasu Master” in Enigmas and Arrivals, An Anthology of Commonwealth Writing, eds. Alastair Niven and Michael Schmidt, Carcanet, Manchester, 1997.
    • “The Remains of the Feast” in The Vintage Book of Indian Writing 1947-1997, eds. Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth West, Vintage, London, 1997; and Mirrorwork, 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1997.
    • Translated extract “Das Horoskop der tausend Nachte”  in Andere Lander, Andere Zeiten, Zeit-Geschichten aus aller Welt, Marino Verlag, 1997.
    • “India and Pakistan 1947-1997: A Celebration”, Special issue ed. Shirley Chew, Kunapipi, Vol. XIX, No. 3, Dangaroo Press, 1997.
    • The Remains of the Feast” in The Writer’s Path, An Introduction to Short Fiction, eds. Constance Rooke and Leon Rooke, ITP Nelson, Scarborough, 1998.
    • “Retrospective” in Imaging the Other, eds. Sara Rai and G.J.V. Prasad, Katha, New Delhi, 1999.
    • “The Remains of the Feast” in Best Loved Indian Stories, Vol. 1, eds. Indira Srinivasan and Chetna Bhat, Penguin India, New Delhi, 1999.
    •  “Love Poem” in First Frost, ed. Charlotte Cole, Women’s Press, London, 2000.
    • Translated extract “Aterstoden av festen” in Karlek, uppor och kardemummakarnor, Berattelser Fran Indien, Bokforlaget Tranan, Stockholm, 2001.
    • “On the Way to Paradise” in Tense Past, Tense Present, Women Writing in English, ed. Joel Kuortti, Stree, Kolkata, 2003.
    • “The Ignoble Politcis of Naipaul’s Nobel” in Kunapipi, Journal of Post-Colonial Writing, Festschrift for Shirley Chew, Vol. XXV, No. 1, 2003.
    • “The Remains of the Feast” in A Matter of Taste, ed. Nilanjana S. Roy, Penguin India, New Delhi, 2004.
    • “Diablo Baby” in The HarperCollins Book of New Indian Fiction, Contemporary Writing in English, ed. Khushwant Singh, HarperCollins India, New Delhi, 2005.
    • “The Remains of the Feast” in Women in Patriarchy, Cross-Cultural Readings, ed. Jasbir Jain, Rawat Publications, New Delhi, 2005.
    • “Volverse Mujer”, translation of “Becoming a Woman” in Fotografia, DGE Equilibrista, Mexico, 2005.
    • “The Rainmaker” in The Inner Line, The Zubaan Anthology of Stories by Indian Women, ed. Urvashi Butalia, Zubaan, New Delhi, 2006.
    • “Gajar Halwa” in The Table is Laid, The Oxford Anthology to South Asian Food Writing, ed. John Thieme and Ira Raja, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006.
    • From In Times of Siege in The Fiction Collection 1: 20 Years of Penguin India, Penguin India, New Delhi, 2007.
    • “Diablo Baby” in The Kenyon Review, Fall issue, Gambier, Ohio, 2008.
    • “Field Trip” in Passages, 24 Modern Indian Stories, eds. Barbara H. Solomon and Eileen Panetta, Signet Classics, New American Library, Penguin Group, New York, 2009.
    • “Crossing Borders” in Wasafiri, Issue no. 59, Autumn 2009, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Oxfordshire.
    • “The Art of Dying” in An Endless Winter’s Night, An Anthology of Mother-Daughter Stories, ed. Ira Raja and Kay Souter, Women Unlimited, New Delhi, 2010.
    • “Halfway Animals” in India, A Traveler’s Literary Companion, ed. Chandrahas Choudhury, Whereabouts Press, Berkeley, 2010.
    • “Nursing God’s Countries” in Garden and Spring, The Abraaj Group Art Prize, 2014,
    • “Nursing God’s Countries in A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces, Extraordinary Short Stories from the 19th Century to the Present, ed. David Davidar, Aleph Book Company, New Delhi, 2014.
    • “The Winning Team” in English readers for schools, Orient BlackSwan, 2014 and 2015.


    Contributions: essays

    • “The Fantasywallas of Bombay” in The Atlas of Literature, ed. Malcolm Bradbury, De Agostini Editions, London, 1996.
    • “Zeera Rasam” in Something to Savour, Food for Thought from Women Writers, ed. Laurie Critchley and Helen Windrath, The Women’s Press, London, 1996.
    • “The Storyteller and the Noose” in The Penguin Book of Death, ed. Gabrielle Carey, Penguin Australia, 1997.
    • “In the City of Victory”, Indiens Suden, Merian, 7 July 1997, Hamburg.
    • “Time was, Time to come”, Telegraph Millennium Magazine, 21 Ideas for the 21st Century, Kolkata, January 2000.
    • “Ten to Six“in Pomeriggio/Afternoon, special edition, Storie, Nos. 42/43, Leconte Editore, Rome, 2001.
    • “All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani” in Lost Classics, Writers on Books Loved and Lost, Michael Ondaatje et al (eds.), Knopf Canada, 2000; Bloomsbury Paperbacks, London, 2003.
    •  “Seven Cities and Anycity” in Storie, No. 49, Leconte Editore, Rome, 2003.
    • “The Ignoble Politics of Naipaul’s Nobel” in Kunapipi xxv: 1, Festschrift for Shirley Chew edited by John McLeod and Catherine Batt, Australia, 2003.
    • “Nissim Ezekiel: The Teacher Behind the Poet” in The Best of Tehelka, Buffalo Books, New Delhi, 2003.
    •  “Shrinking Spaces in Times of Globalisation” in JSL, Spring 2004, Journal of the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
    • “New Voices, New Challenges” in Indian Literature, Issue 228, July-August, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2005.
    • “In Times of Siege: Shrinking Spaces in Times of Globalisation” in Littcrit, An Indian Response to Literature, Thiruvananthapuram, Vol. 31, No. 1, June 2005.
    • “Subbalakshmi’s Sari, Imelda’s Fan” in Moving Worlds, Performing Arts and South Asian Literature, ed. Shirley Chew, Vol. 5, No. 2, University of Leeds, 2005.
    • Introduction to Fragments of a Life by Mythily Sivaraman, Zubaan Books, New Delhi, 2006.
    • Introduction to Frontiers, Collected Stories by Shama Futehally, Penguin Books India, 2006.
    • “In Search of Our Other Selves: Literature as Resistance” in the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, ed. Janet Wilson, Vol. 43, Issue 2 August 2007, Routledge, Francis and Taylor Group, Oxfordshire.
    • “In Times of Siege: Shrinking Spaces in Times of Globalization” in Agenda, Centre for Communication and Development Studies, Pune, 2007.
    • “Narratives in Contemporary Indian Art: A Concept Note” in Horn Please: Narratives in Contemporary Indian Art, eds. Bernhard Fibicher and Suman Gopinath, Kunstmuseum Bern, Hatje Cantz, 2007.
    • “Bloodthirsty Honour” in Writing a Nation: An Anthology of Indian Journalism, ed. Nirmala Lakshman, Rupa & Co, New Delhi, 2007.
    • “Owning Books, Being Owned by Books” in First City, April 2008, New Delhi.
    • “A Vision for Keeps” in The Idea of a University: Jamia Millia Islamia, ed. Rakshanda Jalil, Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2009.
    • “The Multiple Joys of a Polygamous Reader”, First City, June 2009, New Delhi.
    • “Poetics, Politics, Praxis” in Agenda, Issue 16, Centre for Communication and Development Studies, Pune, 2009.
    • “Seeing Palestine” in Indian Literature, No. 258, July/August 2010, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
    • “Toda Cafe” in Moving Worlds, Vol. 10 Supplement 2010.
    • “Basava’s Lesson” in Himal South Asia, Kathmandu, April 2010.
    • Foreword to Meena Alexander’s novel Nampally Road, Orient Blackswan, Hyderabad, 2012.
    • “Messages from Crusoe” in Beyond Borders, ed. Savita Singh, The SAARC Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, New Delhi 2012.
    • “Inside the Matrix”, Frontline, April 2013, Chennai.
    • “Making the City Hers” in Moving Worlds, Special issue on Postcolonial Cities, South Asia ed. Caroline Herbert, Vol. 13, No. 2, University of Leeds, 2013.
    • “Seeing Palestine” in Wasafiri, Beautiful Resistance: A Special Issue on Palestine, ed. Rachel Holmes, 2014, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Oxfordshire.
    • “Retelling Asias”, Moving Worlds, forthcoming.


    Writer’s residencies/ fellowships/ juries/ boards

    • Jury Member, Neustadt Prize for Literature, University of Oklahoma, 1994
    • Charles Wallace Writer-in-Residence, University of Kent, Canterbury, England, 1995
    • Senior Fellowship in Literature, the Ministry for Human Resources Development, Government of India, 1996-1998
    • Member of Expert Committee to award government fellowships in literature, New Delhi, 1998
    • Jury Member, best writing on cinema, National Film Awards, New Delhi 1999
    • Writer-in-Residence, “A World of Words: International Women Writers,” Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers, Washington State, USA, 2001
    • Writer’s residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s study and conference centre at Bellagio, Italy, 2001
    • Member, Advisory Board, Moving Worlds, A Journal of Transcultural Writings, University of Leeds, 2001 onward
    • Jury Member, Public Hearing on Girl Child Labour, Mysore, 2003
    • World Literature Residency, George Washington University, USA, 2004
    • Jury, Classmate Young Author contest, Mumbai, 2005
    • Distinguished Montgomery Fellow, Dartmouth College, USA, 2006
    • Trustee, India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore, 2006 onward
    • Writer-in-Residence, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, 2008-2009
    • Member, Public Hearing on a Follow-up of Gujarat 2002, Ahmedabad, 2011
    • Member, civil society team visiting Kashmir for a public meeting in Kupwara and a

    round table conference with Kashmiri leaders and activists, Srinagar, 2011

    • Jury Member, 4th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala,

    Thiruvanathapuram, 2011

    • Jury Member, Crossword Prize for Fiction, Mumbai, 2011
    • Scholar-in-Residence, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, 2010-2012
    • Jury Member, Hindu Prize for Fiction, Chennai, 2015
    • International Writer in Residence, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
    • Visiting Professor, Goa University, 2015-2018
    • Chair, Board of Trustees, Indian Writers’ Forum, New Delhi.


    Details of original work


    • The Thousand Faces of Night

    A tale of women’s lives in India, this award-winning novel fuses myth, tale and the real voices of different women to bring alive the underworld of Indian women’s lives.

    “[The novel] shows, with exceptional fictional skill, the subtle and everyday way in which women are bludgeoned to play male-scripted subordinate roles.”

    India Today


    • The Art of Dying and Other Stories

    Twenty short stories of contemporary Indian life.

    “Compassionate yet ruthless in their honesty…”

    J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize winner for Literature


    • The Ghosts of Vasu Master

    Away from the familiar, circumscribed world of school, principal and classroom, the Vasu Master of this novel begins to discover, in his own halting but imaginative way, the nature of teaching, teacher and pupil, and the link between teaching and healing.

    “…what matters is Hariharan’s zeal to confront systems that bind the mind.”
    The Hindu


    • When Dreams Travel

    This novel weaves round Scheherazade of the thousand and one nights a vibrant, inventive story about power politics at different levels.

    “… a beautifully written and evocative novel… as much about storytelling as about story tellers…. one of the threads that Hariharan skillfully weaves into her narrative is the mutability of tales, their tendency to shift as they pass from one person to another, revealing the story teller’s background and views…”
    Kamila Shamsie, Times Literary Supplement


    • In Times of Siege

    The novel unfolds the story of ordinary lives besieged, of men and women struggling to make sense of hatred, ignorance, love and loyalty – in individuals, ideas and the nation. In Times of Siege holds up an uncompromising mirror to India today.

    “Githa Hariharan’s new novel, In Times of Siege, is not only quite as contemporary as today’s newspaper, but tomorrow’s as well. That is what makes it literature – i.e. news that stays news – rather than mere journalism.”

    Alok Rai, Outlook


    • The Winning Team

    Ten stories for children about the many different sorts of people in India and their stories, stories that may occasionally be puzzling or sad, but which never leave out laughter.

    The Winning Team should be translated in all our languages and made compulsory reading for boys and girls in schools.”

    Khushwant Singh, in his column “With Malice towards One and All”


    • Fugitive Histories

    Fugitive Histories exposes the legacy of prejudice that, sometimes insidiously, sometimes perceptibly, continues to affect disparate lives in present-day India.

    “[Githa Hariharan’s novel] looks unflinchingly into the ugliness of sectarian destructiveness and strife with an almost photographically realistic lens, but always remains within earshot of her protagonists’ small, personal voices… As subtly constructed as a Chinese box, concealing narratives within narratives and yet remaining blindingly clear in all its exposition of public and private realities…”
    Aamer Hussein, Tehelka


    • Almost Home: Cities and Other Places

    Combining memoir and polemic, historical and imagined narrative, anecdote and poetry, Githa Hariharan recounts defining moments—in which people experience the frictions of day-to-day survival, or the collisions of ideas, culture, war or colonisation. The result is a fascinating and layered story of home: a sense of home, too many homes, broken or lost homes.

    “In essays that bespeak a thoroughly cosmopolitan sensibility, Githa Hariharan not only takes us on illuminating tours through cities rich in history, but gives a voice to urban people from all over the world – Kashmir, Palestine, Delhi – trying to live with basic human dignity under circumstances of dire repression or crushing poverty.”

    JM Coetzee