Subaltern Experimental Writing: Dalit Literature in Dialogue with the World


  • Nicole Thiara Nottingham Trent University


Dalit, subaltern, experimental writing, Bama, Limbale, Kalyana Rao


This essay analyses the experimental features of three contemporary novels produced by Dalits in relation to the way in which these novels address caste, national and international audiences. Bama’s novel Sangati (1994), Sharankumar Limbale’s novel Hindu (2003) and G. Kalyana Rao’s novel Untouchable Spring (2000) create fragmented, innovative and complex narrative structures that are experimental both in the way in which they try to reflect oral narrative structures in order to validate the unique communal legacy of Dalit culture and in the way in which they seek to produce narrative strategies that are radically new in order to evoke a world free from caste discrimination. The essay also explores the novels’ complex positioning of multiple readers and the distinctive features of the English translations. The three translations both re-code the texts for international consumption but at the same time try to keep the novels ‘strange’ to some extent; in the attempt to replicate the innovative features of these Dalit novels, the translations are emphatically experimental.

Author Biography

Nicole Thiara, Nottingham Trent University

Nicole Thiara teaches postcolonial and contemporary literature at Nottingham Trent University. Her area of research is South Asian, Dalit and diasporic literature and she is currently working on a monograph on the representation of Dalits in Indian Literature and film. She is Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded Research Network Series 'Writing, Analysing, Translating Dalit Literature' (2014–16). She is author of the monograph Salman Rushdie and Indian Historiography: Writing the Nation Into Being (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and published articles in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, the Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies and Contemporary South Asia.