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Kunal Basu

Kunal Basu was born in Kolkata (North Calcutta) in 1956. He studied engineering at Jadavpur Universityh and later at the University of Florida. Basu changed careers, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida and settled in Montreal, Quebec where he held a position as Associate Professor of Marketing at McGill University for more than a decade. He left Canada in 1999 to pursue his academic career at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Basu’s literary output includes novels, short stories, plays, poetry and screenplays.  He has also acted on the stage and in film.  The title story of his short story collection, The Japanese Wife, was made into a motion picture by Aparna Sen.

Fiction (Short stories)

The Japanese Wife and Other Stories

Toronto: McArthur & Co., 2008.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The 12 stories in this collection are about the unexpected. An American professor visits India with the purpose of committing suicide, and goes on a desert journey with the daughter of a snakecharmer. A honeymooning Indian couple is caught up in the Tianamen Square unrest. A Russian prostitute discovers her roots in the company of Calcutta revolutionaries. An Indian man writers to a Japanese woman. They fall in love and exchange vows in their letters, then live as man and wife without ever setting eyes on each other. Kunal Basu parades a cast of angels and demons rubbing shoulders with those whose lives are never quite as ordinary as they seem.


The Miniaturist

London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003.
PR9499.3 .B42 M56 2003

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Set in the court of the Emperor Akbar in 16th-century India, this is a richly detailed and sensuous tale of art, sex and political intrigue. Bihzad is the son of the emperor’s chief artist and as such, he is groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps. A child prodigy, Bihzad is shielded from life as he grows up in the stunning fortress town of Agra. But soon word of his talent – his wild, imaginative drawings free from the normal restrictions of court painting – spreads. When the emperor decides to move the court to Fatehpur Sikri, Bihzad is favoured among the other artists and musicians. In his spare time he paints a series of richly, erotic scenes. But as his fame increases, he begins to make enemies who are jealous of his success and who will use his hidden drawings to destroy him.


The Opium Clerk

Toronto: McArthur & Co., 2001.

Publisher’s Synopsis



Toronto: McArthur & Co., 2006.

Awards and Honours

2007 Crossword Book Award (Finalist)


The Yellow Emperor's Cure book cover


The Yellow Emperor’s Cure

Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2011.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

In a breakout novel that transports the reader to a brilliantly imagined, sensuously portrayed, dangerous point in history, Kunal Basu has written the tale of a man’s journey that spans continents–and the limits of his faith in science. Lisbon, 1898: Antonio Maria, surgeon and notorious playboy, returns home after a long absence to learn his beloved father has syphilis, the scourge of both rich and poor. Determined to find a cure, Antonio sets sail for Peking, to study under the evasive but renowned Dr. Xu. But Dr. Xu does not intend to give away his knowledge, and Antonio suddenly falls in love with his assistant, the elusive Fumi. The threat of the advancing Boxer rebellion hangs over the Summer Palace, and Antonio and Fumi must decide whether to flee together or remain in China.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Chilana, Rajwant Singh. “Kunal Basu.” In South Asian Writers in Canada: A Bio-Bibliographical Study. Surrey, BC: Asian Publications, 2017, 216-217.
Z1376 .S68 C45 2017

Dhar, Subir, A. Roy, A. Nanda and D. Bandopadhyay, editors. Romancing the Strange: The Fiction of Kunal Basu: Critical Essays on The Opium Clerk and The Miniaturist. Calcutta, India: Avantgarde Press on behalf of the Shakespeare Society of India, 2004.


Kunal Basu personal website

Publisher McArthur & Co. (firm closed in summer 2013 after 15 years in business)

Publisher Overlook Press

Publisher Orion Publishing Group now publishes three of the novels