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Sumana Roy

Associate Professor of Creative Writing, Ashoka University

Ph.D. University of North Bengal

Sumana Roy is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Ashoka University. Prior to this, she taught English Literature in government colleges in Bengal. She was a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society in Munich (2018), and a Full Time Visiting Fellow at the South Asia Program, Cornell University (Fall 2018). 

She writes a monthly column on the subject of plant life for Hindu Business Line – it’s called Treelogy. Her poems and essays have appeared in Granta, Guernica, Los Angeles Review of Books, The White Review, Caravan, Himal Southasian, Drunken Boat, the Prairie Schooner, Berfrois, The Common, Journal of South Asian Studies, Journal of Life Writing, and American Book Review

Professor Roy is currently working on a book project called Of Grass And Gardens, Roots And Forests, And Magical Plants: Five Plant Thinkers Of Twentieth Century Bengal (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), which looks at the work of five South Asians: Rabindranath Tagore, Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay, Jibanananda Das, Shakti Chattopadhyay, and Satyajit Ray. These poets, writers, artists and filmmakers, artists who were neither botanists nor environmentalists, she argues, wrote what could be called ‘plant philosophy’. Each of these writers, who were neither botanists nor environmentalists, display a tendency to return to a favoured form of discourse around plant life – Tagore on the garden, Bandyopadhyay on the forest, Das on grass, Chattopadhyay on roots and leaves, and Ray on fantastical plants. This book is an attempt to study their work against the background of the new consciousness about plant life created by scientific research, art, and evolving socio-religious practices of the time. 

Professor Roy’s research interests include literature on the non-human, provincial Literatures, and cultures of close reading. As a practitioner, Professor Roy is invested in what she calls the ‘minor’ forms.

  • How I Became a Tree (Aleph, 2017)
  • Missing: A Novel (Aleph, 2018)
  • Out of Syllabus: Poems (Speaking Tiger, 2019)
  • My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Books Edited

  • Animalia Indica: The Finest Animal Stories in Indian Literature (Aleph, 2019)
  • The Essay

  • Poetry Workshop

  • Introduction to Creative Writing

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka