Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

A Map of Longings

A Map of Longings

Life and Works of Agha Shahid Ali

Manan Kapoor
Select Preferred Format

This first definitive biography of Agha Shahid Ali offers a rich portrait of the poet and the world he inhabited.

“A scintillating portrait of one of the finest poets of the late 20th century”-Ranjit Hoskote

“Manan Kapoor’s immersive study returns the poet to his roots, which are inescapably Indian-there’s no other word for the syncretic mastery of the Hindi, Urdu and English traditions that shaped his work.”-Jeet Thayil

Shahid is widely regarded as one of the finest poets from the Indian subcontinent, and his works are read across the world, touching millions of lives. A pioneer of ghazal writing in English, he wrote extensively about loss, nostalgia and home. A witness to the conflict that ravaged his homeland Kashmir, a loss he lamented in his collection The Country without a Post Office, Shahid has today become a symbol of hope in a violent world.

In this biography, Manan Kapoor explores the concerns that shaped Shahid’s life and works, following in the footsteps of the ‘Beloved Witness’ from Kashmir to New Delhi and finally to the United States. He charts Shahid’s friendships with figures like Begum Akhtar and James Merrill, and looks at the lives the poet touched with his compassion and love. He also traces the complex evolution of Shahid’s evocative verses, which mapped various cultures and geographies, and mourned injustice and loss, both personal and political. Drawing on various unpublished materials and in-depth interviews with Shahid’s family, friends, students and acquaintances, Kapoor narrates the riveting story of a major literary voice and presents Shahid’s poetic vision, revealing not just what he wrote but also how he taught the world to live.

Imprint: Vintage Books

Published: May/2021

ISBN: 9780670092772

Length : 232 Pages

MRP : ₹499.00

A Map of Longings

Life and Works of Agha Shahid Ali

Manan Kapoor

This first definitive biography of Agha Shahid Ali offers a rich portrait of the poet and the world he inhabited.

“A scintillating portrait of one of the finest poets of the late 20th century”-Ranjit Hoskote

“Manan Kapoor’s immersive study returns the poet to his roots, which are inescapably Indian-there’s no other word for the syncretic mastery of the Hindi, Urdu and English traditions that shaped his work.”-Jeet Thayil

Shahid is widely regarded as one of the finest poets from the Indian subcontinent, and his works are read across the world, touching millions of lives. A pioneer of ghazal writing in English, he wrote extensively about loss, nostalgia and home. A witness to the conflict that ravaged his homeland Kashmir, a loss he lamented in his collection The Country without a Post Office, Shahid has today become a symbol of hope in a violent world.

In this biography, Manan Kapoor explores the concerns that shaped Shahid’s life and works, following in the footsteps of the ‘Beloved Witness’ from Kashmir to New Delhi and finally to the United States. He charts Shahid’s friendships with figures like Begum Akhtar and James Merrill, and looks at the lives the poet touched with his compassion and love. He also traces the complex evolution of Shahid’s evocative verses, which mapped various cultures and geographies, and mourned injustice and loss, both personal and political. Drawing on various unpublished materials and in-depth interviews with Shahid’s family, friends, students and acquaintances, Kapoor narrates the riveting story of a major literary voice and presents Shahid’s poetic vision, revealing not just what he wrote but also how he taught the world to live.

Select Preferred Format

Manan Kapoor

Manan Kapoor is the author of The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky, which was shortlisted for the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar 2017. He was a writer-in-residence at Sangam House writers' residency in 2019. His writings have appeared in the Boston Review, Caravan, The Hindu, Scroll, Firstpost and the Wire, among other publications.

June calls for halftime, let’s take the time to breathe and read

Yes, six months have passed since 2021 began. Under normal circumstances, a June mood-board would probably be filled with things like citrus fruit, travel plans, swimsuits, bright colours and pretty food. Much like Darwin theorised though, we evolve to take advantage of the resources we have. The one thing we’ve always got is our books. […]