Poet, Writer, Professor at S. P. Pune University, India
R Raj Rao obtained his PhD in English from the University of Bombay in 1986 and received the Nehru Centenary British Fellowship for postdoctoral research at the Centre for Caribbean Studies, University of Warwick, UK, in 1990. In 1996, Rao was invited to the International Writing Program, University of Iowa, USA, one of the world’s finest writing programs. Rao’s work as a poet and writer has been discussed in various scholarly books, such as Forbidden Sex/Forbidden Text: New India’s Gay Poets, The Phobic and the Erotic: The Politics of Sexuality in Contemporary India, Modern Indian Poetry in English, and Indian English Literature. Rao is currently professor and former head of the department of English at the S. P. Pune University, India, where he has been teaching Creative Writing and Queer Studies for over a decade, and Indian Writing in English for a quarter of a century.
Rao has written four collections of poetry, Slide Show, BomGay, For Hire, and The Canada Album, the last made up entirely of haiku, which remains one of his favourite verse forms. BomGay has served as the basis of the late Riyad Wadia’s much-acclaimed short experimental film, BomGay, with Bollywood star Rahul Bose in the lead. Rao’s poems also appear in The Harper Collins Book of English Poetry and in the anthology Dance of the Peacock.
Rao’s fiction includes a collection of short stories, One Day I Locked My Flat in Soul City, also translated into Italian; as well as two novels, The Boyfriend and Hostel Room 131. The Boyfriend has been translated into Italian and French and has been optioned for a motion picture to be directed by Ashim Ahluwalia. Rao has a forthcoming novel Lady Lolita’s Lover due out in the year 2015. His fiction has appeared in the anthologies Yaraana: Gay Writing from India, Out: Stories from the New Queer India, and in the crime fiction series Mumbai Noir.
Rao has written a collection of plays, The Wisest Fool on Earth and Other Plays. The title play has been visually enacted in New York City and performed in English and Hindi in Bombay, Pune and Hyderabad.
Rao’s nonfiction includes two major books Nissim Ezekiel: The Authorized Biography and Whistling in the Dark: Twenty one Queer Interviews, co-edited with Dibyajyoti Sarma. It also includes hundreds of uncollected scholarly articles, book reviews, newspaper and magazine features, interviews, travelogues and weekly and fortnightly columns.
As a co-translator from Marathi, Rao’s work appears in Poisoned Bread: Translations from Modern Marathi Dalit Literature, in a collection of essays by the noted Marathi writer Vilas Sarang, and in the US-based online journal Words Without Borders. His co-translation of the book Me Hijra Me Laxmi has just been published by Oxford University Press.
Rao has given readings from his work in London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Barcelona, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal and Toronto, among other great cities, and has been a visiting professor at Dresden University, Germany, and Concordia University, Canada.
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