Ban en Banlieue

An evocative exploration of body and politics by one of our most exciting innovative writers




Additional information

Weight .4 lbs
Dimensions 5.8 × .5 × 7.5 in

Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieue follows a brown (black) girl as she walks home from school in the first moments of a riot. An April night in London, in 1979, is the axis of this startling work of overlapping arcs and varying approaches. By the end of the night, Ban moves into an incarnate and untethered presence, becoming all matter— soot, meat, diesel oil and force—as she loops the city with the energy of global weather. Derived from performances in India, England and throughout the U.S., Ban en Banlieue is written at the limit of somatic and civic aims.Stunningly unique.


Stunningly unique.

ISBN: 9781937658243
paperback, 112 pages, 6 x 7 1/2 in.
Publication Date: 2015

“Trying to offer a clear critical comment on Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieue is particularly challenging because it so stridently seeks to side-step the rational, hierarchical, closed-system imaginations which generate race riots, which churn women’s bodies into sexual fodder and carcasses tossed out of vans, which demand that we see mental illness as an individual disorder rather than as a human soul crying out amidst inhuman cultural paroxysms. “Centered” around a race riot in 1979 London, Kapil’s text belies the notion of fixed centers or single origins of cultural violence. Instead, she offers a variety of emotional, psychological, and spiritual loci around which her text coalesces. To cry out. To fail. To rise like diesel smoke in a hot summer wind.

And now I feel I must start again. The impressive psychological density that Kapil’s book opens in me requires me to try and offer a better statement, a different statement. This book is a series of mirrors folded towards each other, and they all admit night. Even as I bend my head over my keyboard to type, my inadequacy to critically represent this text rises over me. It’s impossible. I’m not sure how Kapil had the wherewithal to write it. I can see how she had to adopt such varied strategies of returns, of beginning otherwise, of writing differently with her body, in order to continue the text. I also feel, though, that I’m somehow perhaps the best (critical) body to speak to it. I have the illusion that I understand something. And so, I feel I must start again, to try again—”

Show More +Show Less -

Bhanu Kapil is a British-Indian emigrant to the United States. She is the author of five full-length works of poetry/prose: The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (2001), Incubation …

More about Bhanu Kapil