kith [noun] one’s friends, acquaintances, neighbours, or relations.
In Kith, award-winning writer Divya Victor engages Indian-American diasporic culture in the twentieth century, via an autobiographical account that explores what ‘kith’ might mean outside of the national boundaries of those people belonging to the Indian and Southeast Asian diasporas.
Through an engagement with the effects of globalization on identity formation, cultural and linguistic exchange, and demographic difference, Kith explores questions about race and ethnic difference: How do ‘brownness’ and ‘blackness’ emerge as traded commodities in the transactions of globalization? What are the symptoms of belonging? How and why does ‘kith’ diverge from ‘kin,’ and what are the affects and politics of this divergence? Historically-placed and well researched, Kith is an unflinching and simultaneous account of both systemic and interpersonal forms of violence and wounding in the world today.
Watch the Book Launch and Reading:
Praise for Kith:
“For Divya Victor, history is a wound. And the poet’s language is bright like the white bandage on which blood shows more clearly. What we have on display in this book is an imagination that is as wide as the world. Part-anthem, part-instruction manual, part-memoir, part-dictionary, this text offers testimony to other ways of being and remembering, a reflection on forgotten lives. I read most of KITH in airplanes and airports, and found myself paying greater attention to everyone around me. I was grateful for Victor’s long sentences that spilled into seemingly every corner of our contemporary reality–these sentences that describe so well our locked destinies and, at the same time, perhaps because of their wit, or vitality, or compassion, deliver us into liberated zones of heightened consciousness.” —Amitava Kumar, author of A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb
“Kith is a luminous work of “Multiple Telling with Multiple Offering,” as Theresa Hak Kyung Cha might say, the dead flittering out of her thrifted coats with kith in their mouths. Kith, like neighbor, friend, enemy, or community, is a kind of conceptual limit, “not of blood and yet belonging”; not kin, which it is often confused with, but kindred, kinship, and also knowledge. Yet in Kith, it turns out that kith is also kin and kin is also kith and the neighbor is also friend, enemy, and the other neighbor’s neighbor, and “we” are all stuck here at the limits of language grasping for new forms of community and belonging when those words suck too yet refuse to burn. Lodged within this “atlas of mangle” known as now-time is something at the helm of being named – Kith’s offering, Kith’s knowledge, Kith’s open boat, Kith’s astounding “shriek frightful.” Where were you when it will happen?” —Rachel Zolf, author of Janey’s Arcadia and Neighbour Procedure
“A keen shriek for stricken kin, Kith pierced me. Divya Victor’s concentrated anger and t(h)rilling intelligence reverberate through these poems, essays, pronunciation exercises, and grim primers. This monumental work shifts shapes, not for virtuosity’s sake—though virtuosic it is—but as one takes up an array of instruments for an intricate undertaking. Quandary: How not to “‘become a jingle of anklets’” the colonizer desires? Perhaps by being a jangle of them. Kith is that dissonance composed; it sounds bitter, tender, and utterly necessary.” —Douglas Kearney, author of Mess and Mess and
Read Excerpts from Kith:
Read an excerpt from Kith —The Brooklyn Rail
Read an excerpt from Kith —The Elephants
Poem of the Week: from “How to survive on land if you are made from paper” from Kith by Divya Victor —Lemon Hound
Three Poems from KITH by Divya Victor: J is for Jarasandha / M is for Michael Jackson and Malcolm X / W is for Walt Whitman’s Soul —The Poetry Foundation
Spring 2017 Books Preview —CBC Books
“Aside from having some of the most interesting poems I’ve read on the topics of race, multiculturalism, and various kinds of exile, it is also a most beautiful book.” —Laura Sackton, BookRiot
November Bookmarks: 13 New Books by Asian Diasporic Writers —Asian American Writers’ Workshop
Poem of the Week: Divya Victor —Lemon Hound 3.0
Love Rupi Kaur? Here are 3 Other Poets you Need to Check Out —The Teal Mango
“Victor’s writing describes the project of colonialism as intercontinental violence. In its unsettling way, Kith reminds us that the diasporic subject is often created first out of violence and displacement.” —Eric Schmaltz, The Puritan
“Kith is a book concerned with the nature of inclusion and exclusion, with all the compromises and contradictions that come with both belonging and not belonging to a culture.” —Dale Enggass, Tripwire
Sugar on the Gash —The Margins, Asian American Writers’ Workshop
On How and Kith: an Interview with Divya Victor —Entropy Magazine
A Home in My Ears: Talking to Divya Victor —Los Angeles Review of Books
Poem Talk Podcast: Flesh Ekes Ink: A Podcast Discussion of Divya Victor’s “W Is for Walt Whitman’s Soul” from her book Kith —Poetry Foundation
[WOMAN WAILING]: On the Problem of Representing Trauma as a Brown Woman Within the Institution of Poetry —Poetry Foundation
Divya Victor is the author of several books and chapbooks, including Natural Subjects (winner of the Bob Kaufman Award), UNSUB, and Things To Do With Your Mouth. Her chapbooks include Semblance, Hellocasts by Charles Reznikoff by Divya Victor by Vanessa Place, and SUTURES. She was born in southern India and lives in the US where she teaches at the University of Michigan.