Silence, Dissonance, Noise: Guided Listening in Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People


  • Sadie Barker Concordia University


Subalternity, Dissonance, Silence, Noise, Performance Studies, Transcription


This paper explores dynamics of listening and sonic performativity in Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People. In a novel premised on the transcription of Animal’s voice and recorded interviews, sound, this paper asserts, is central to, and yet occluded by, the novel’s own textual form. This paper explores this metatextual relationship between sound and text, subaltern voice and novelistic form, by focussing a particular moment of “guided listening” in Animal’s narration. I propose that Animal’s invitation to the reader, to hear beauty in the deathly silence of the Kampani’s abandoned, toxic factory, actively interpolates reader logics by compelling a mode of counterintuive listening. This moment thus arguably presents an impasse, in that it advocates experimentation and reflexive encounter with the novel going forward. In doing so, Animal’s “guided listening,” this paper posits, reconfigures Animal’s voice as not a matter to be recuperated by the reader and represented through the text, but a voice whose agency lies in its capacity to reorganize the novel’s associative economies and inspire the reader to do the same.

Author Biography

Sadie Barker, Concordia University

Sadie Barker (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at Concordia University and the co-founder/co-editor of Refractions: A Journal of Postcolonial Cultural Criticism. Her research explores relations between aesthetic and postcolonial theory by way of literature, visual, and sonic media. Her writing and podcasting can be found (or is forthcoming) in Canadian LiteratureSpokenWeb, Post45, Women & Performance, Refractions, English Studies in Canada, and elsewhere.