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The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  247 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Poetry. Asian American Studies. THE VERTICAL INTERROGATION OF STRANGERS blends the narratives of the travelog and the coming of age novel. It is written by a young Indian woman whose travels take her between homes in two countries, India and England, and through parts of the United States. These short pieces reveal new ways of belonging in the world and possibilities for a ...more
Paperback, 111 pages
Published October 12th 2001 by Kelsey Street Press (first published October 1st 2001)
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Gwendolyn Jerris
i was grabbed by my wrists and pulled to my unread stacks, some entity. something saying to me, urgently, read this one now.

this book, this time.

“I risk lemons. I risk melted honey. I risk water. I risk an old wine bottle in the shape of a Dravidian goddess. Her abandoned torso. Her hips.”




“The distances between my body and the bodies of the ones I love:
grow. They are limited by coasts. I have a few questions to ask, but
I do not kn
The writing can be lovely, or at least interesting, but this book did little but, well, piss me off from the beginning. The "voices", for much of the book, were so homogenous that I found it hard to buy the premise that this is a collection of many women's voices. Also, the book aims to illuminate/illustrate/give voice to/recreate/whatever the "women's experience" (whatever THAT is), but by and large every entry is about a man in some way, as if to say that woman can only define herself by her 1 ...more
An astonishing book. Quite possibly perfect... definitely the perfect thing for me to read at this moment. I am full.
Carrie Chappell
I will remember this collection for its unique invitation to the female interior. Rider's text is another example of how physical and sexual confinement and abuse force the mind and heart to express. While sensing the borders of our prison, we turn inward to grasp other freedoms with an alarming specificity, a revolutionary awareness of self and other and the otherness of self.

I am still not sure how Rider composed these poems, as she admits in the opening that the book stems from her interview
seized me in the moment I needed it most. completely arresting, powerful.

these are the questions we need to ask ourselves to remind us of our humanity. our identities. how we survive. how we go on living despite pain, despite injustice.

PS: having completed it, oh my god, can I tell you all, can I tell the world how beautiful this book is? is it possible to break my heart and strengthen it at the same time? the world, it brims.
Dec 03, 2007 Nathanial rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the collaborative-minded
Shelves: poetry
one thing that the goodreads' summary doesn't mention is that b.k.r. had originally set out to interview women in those three countries, using her 12 questions, and then compile their responses into a book. in her preface, bkr explains that she instead took 'the sound of their voices' as a template, and allowed her own words to emerge from there.
Kapil is a master of repetition that doesn't bore. It's not a repetition like Gertrude Stein. Kapil's is more nuanced -- you might not notice it right away. It's not poetry as in poetry about beautiful landscapes or people necessarily, it seems to have bodies and places and diaspora and pain. Maybe poetry as in pain. But also poetry about invisibility, to me, maybe. It took me so long to read since I kept certain favourites or ones I desired to reread bookmarked. I reread them many times before ...more
Jul 10, 2015 Eric added it
This is a link to Bhanu Kapil reading her work:
Denise R Weuve
There are lines, even multiple lines that are really gorgeous and wrap themselves in the beauty of prose with the poetry ribbon. And it is prose poetry as it were, but in the end it is not a shining example of great prose poetry. Yes there have been 3 printings, and yes the concept is amazing; asking the same 12 questions to multiple women and given them voice. These women (though acknowledge by the author that she would being representing them through her voice) are a blur of each other. Their ...more
Participate in a project around this book and blog for Kelsey Street Press. Details below and at our site

Send Us Your Vertical Answers

In the years since Vertical Interrogation for Strangers was published, Bhanu Kapil has received dozens of letters and emails from readers who have taken the questions that foreground the book’s structure and answered them in their own way. Listen to Bhanu say more about this here.

One such reader is the poet Jean Valentine. A
Roz Ito
I live by these sentences. Writing is dangerous.

The above is from one of the responses to the question "Describe a morning you woke without fear," and it pretty much sums up this book for me. Gutsy & risky, volatile & inspiring, Kapil's interrogations of strangers & self strip language & recollection down to the rawest root, the scariest, most vulnerable core of the many secrets that must be confronted head-on (especially by women) in order to survive, in order to be alive. An in
Nov 20, 2014 Lisa added it
Shelves: women
I don't know what to make of this book, and so I haven't given it a star rating. In other moments I would just have said it makes no sense and left it at that, but I don't think that's how I feel about it now. But it is maybe not my kind of book.
Based on many women's responses to 12 questions including "What is the shape of your body?" "What do you remember about the earth?" "What are the consequences of silence?" and others. It's fascinating in many ways -- I loved the multiplicity of voices and experiences sieved through one narrative style.

"(But I remember when I took him to me: a railway station, a red desert. Two, three, four, five a.m. I barely know him. A wooden bench. Someone is boiling milk behind us, on a tiny stove. A coal bu
Elle Klock
This book changed my life. I carried it around with me for years.
This book is a tiny gem. I have had the pleasure of hearing the author read from it and that only made it even more incredible to me. The book is an ongoing dialogue, an attempt to answer a series of questions about women and their bodies. The prose is sparse, some of the answers to the questions short and too the point. But the overall impact of the book as a whole is large and lasting.
Bhanu Kapil has another book that I just bought but haven't read yet--Incubation: A Space for Monsters. It loo
Amira Hanafi
Apr 09, 2008 Amira Hanafi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: emigrants, immigrants, other border crossers
Recommended to Amira by: the aether
I spent a lot of time while reading this book flipping back to the cryptic introduction. It did not detract much, though, from the dizzying colors that arose from this prose. Some of the passages in this book of answers had me gasping. Bhanu Kapil composes in the little cracks between. If you're thinking of reading this, do it now. And read Incubation too. Then I'm going to read them again with you.
Bhanu Kapil Rider weaves some kind of dark magic with her words and every page seems to drip blood and spices and the weather of her travels. The structure of The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers is unique and keeps you reading after midnight, sipping words like warm milk with turmeric.
Katie McCleary
Oct 25, 2007 Katie McCleary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women artists
this book is an amazing artistic voyage that overlaps women's identities through a plethora of voices. A collective unconscious unfolds before our eyes as twelve different questions are answered in a room that holds no distractione except the spirit... BEST book.
im not thru yet but am very taken by the book so far. each poem is a microcosm of experience(s), a smattering of collaged words and lives, a kind of diasporic leap that gives more the sense of a collaged portrait than a scattered puzzle.
Imagery springs off the page in every line. I wanted to know which additions were the authors, but the book would not have its anonymous, yet universal feel, if I had known.
I was amazed to read this book because it's about women and how they respond to different questions. It's beauty is hidden within the questions.
Sensitive and creative ethnology framed through a philosophy of questions...Inspired by the answers.
This is a book to read for language. It is more akin to reading poetry than reading fiction.
May 03, 2011 Aran rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
So not my jam. But I can see that it is a thing. Interesting.
I held my breath while reading & re-reading this gorgeous book.
Brief, beautiful, atmospheric collection of poems.
Oct 31, 2007 Seven rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
my professor and great writer!!! cross-genre genuis!
Tara Jay
Tara Jay marked it as to-read
Oct 08, 2015
Jake Vinson
Jake Vinson marked it as to-read
Sep 29, 2015
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