British Author (1969-)
Hari Mohan Nath Kunzru was born in London in 1969 of mixed Indian and English parentage. His father, Krishna Mohan Nath Kunzru was a graduate of Agra Medical College who came to Britain to work as an orthopaedic surgeon in the National Health Service during the 1960's, where he met and married a nurse named Hilary Ann David in 1968.
Hari was educated at Bancroft's School in Woodford Green in Essex (a minor public school) and at Wadham College, Oxford where he read English. He left Oxford in 1991 and headed for London, where the world did not fall beneath his feet as expected. Between 1992 and 1994 he worked as a "van driver, waiter, promotions co-ordinator, telesales drudge, DJ and decorator" and as a juggler in nightclubs promoting soft drinks. He then decided to return to academia and studied for an MA in Philosophy and Literature at Warwick University in 1995.
It was at Warwick that he met the editor of Wired magazine and began a career in journalism writing about technology. From 1995 to 1997 he was the Associate Editor of Wired UK, and he has been a contributing editor at culture and technology magazine Mute since 1995. In 1998 he became the travel correspondent for Time Out magazine, and also wrote travel pieces for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph being named The Observer Young Travel Writer of the Year for 1999. Between 1999 and 2004 he was also music editor of Wallpaper magazine.
Described by the Evening Standard "of the most hyped authors in London", his first novel The Impressionist (Tom Jones meets Midnight's Children), sparked off a transatlantic bidding war which resulted in Kunzru receiving one of the largest advances in publishing history, belived to be around £1.25 million. Published in the United Kingdom in April 2002, it won the Betty Trask Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Pendleton May first novel award. It also won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize, but Hari declined to accept it as he objected to the presence of the Mail on Sunday newspaper as sponsor of the award. Granta magazine included his name on their list of the 'Best of Young British Novelists' in 2003.
His second novel Transmission appeared in 2004; "A taut, darkly funny novel about life in the Internet Age, Transmission tells the story of Arjun Mehta, an Indian computer programmer who comes to Silicon Valley in search of the online-age version of the Great American Dream"; it won for him the award of the British Book Award for Writer of the Year in 2005.
Hari Kunzru has also developed a parallel career as a broadcaster. Between 1999 and 2000 he presented the arts programme The Lounge for Sky TV and has since interviewed V.S. Naipaul for BBC Four and presented the television documentary The Great Arc and another on Islamic Art. Kunzru has also appeared as a regular guest on BBC Two's Newsnight Review and on Radio 4's Start the Week. He has also written the radio play Sound Mirrors in collaboration with Coldcut which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in March 2004, and has written a number of pieces of shorter fiction which appeared together in the collection Noise published in 2005.
According to the critic Luca Prono "Hari Kunzru’s writings explore the controversial legacies of colonialism and empire, and the impact of today’s globalised world on the formation of individual identities."
Short story collection
- Noise Hamish Hamilton, 2005