Populism and Precarity in Contemporary Indian Dystopian Fiction: Nayantara Sahgal’s When the Moon Shines by Day and Prayaag Akbar’s Leila

  • Dolores Herrero Universidad de Zaragoza


Although dystopia has been an enduring trope in literature, it is now, however, that dystopian and apocalyptic fiction has become especially popular all over the world. The main aim of this article is to discuss how contemporary Indian fiction denounces the barbarity of contemporary Indian nationalism, in particular the policies enforced by a repressive Indian state where tradition and purity are valued above multiculturality, dialogue and equality. In order to do this, I focus on two internationally acclaimed novels, namely, NayantaraSahgal’s When the Moon Shines by Day (2017) and Prayaag Akbar’s Leila (2018). In different but complementary ways, both dystopias draw a telling portrait of precarious times in contemporary India. Both novels also warn against the dangers of the fundamentalist version of Hindu nationalism and cultural censorship, at the same time as they bring to our attention the damage that a dominant minority can inflict on those situated at the bottom of the social ladder, who are thus condemned to live in inhuman conditions, as if they were less than nothing.

Author Biography

Dolores Herrero, Universidad de Zaragoza
Dolores Herrero is Full Professor of English Literature in the Department of English and German Philology at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. Her main interests are postcolonial literature and cinema, on which she has published extensively. She was the editor of Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies from 1998 until 2006 and Secretary of EASA (European Association for Studies on Australia) from 2011 until 2015.


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