Assessing the Limitations of Laughter in Indra Sinha's Animal's People

Heather R. Snell


This article assesses the limitations of laughter in Indra Sinha's Animal's People. I argue that the novel's cheeky first-person narrator draws on the languages of abjection and carnival to expose and thereby constrain the assumptions that both he and his implied readers may bring to intercultural reading encounters. I trace his explicit addresses to an imagined body of implied readers and the ways in which the uneven power relations that inform this relationship are reflected in the novel's plot. Drawing on the theories of Julia Kristeva and Mikhail Bakhtin, I analyze selected passages that show how the parameters defining what is laughable and what is not shift to make way for a potentially unsettling scene of reading both within the novel and in the larger text, which includes a website to which the reader is referred at the end of the Editor's Note. In conclusion, I argue that despite the novel's emphasis on the futility of genuine intercultural understanding, Animal's tactics produce new and possibly productive paradigms for reading what might be perceived as culturally different books.


laughter, humour, postcolonial, India, the United States, transnational, global, reading, exotic, exoticism, intercultural

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