Pankaj Mishra was born in North India in 1969. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in commerce from Allahabad University before earning his Master of Arts degree in English literature at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
In 1992, he moved to Mashobra, a Himalayan village, where he began to contribute literary essays and reviews to The Indian Review of Books, The India Magazine, and the newspaper The Pioneer. His first book was Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (1995), a travelogue that described the social and cultural changes in India in the new context of globalization.
His novel The Romantics (2000), an ironic tale of people longing for fulfillment in cultures other than their own, was published in eleven European languages and won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum award for first fiction. His recent book An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World (2004) mixes memoir, history, and philosophy while attempting to explore the Buddha's relevance to contemporary times.
Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond (2006), describes Mishra's travels through Kashmir, Bollywood, Afghanistan, Tibet, Nepal, and other parts of South and Central Asia.
In 2005, Mishra published an anthology of writing on India, entitled India in Mind (Vintage). His writings have been anthologized in The Picador Book of Journeys (2000), The Vintage Book of Modern Indian Literature (2004), and Away: The Indian Writer as Expatriate (Penguin), among other titles.
Mishra writes literary and political essays for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, and New Statesman, among other American, British, and Indian publications. His work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Common Knowledge, the Financial Times, Granta, The Independent, the London Review of Books, n+1, The Nation, Outlook, Poetry, Time, The Times Literary Supplement, Travel + Leisure, and The Washington Post.