Postcolonial Disaster studies literary fiction about crises of epic proportions in contemporary South Asia and Southern Africa: the oceanic disaster in Sri Lanka, the economic disaster in Zimbabwe, the medical disaster in South Africa and Botswana, and the geopolitical disaster in India and Pakistan. Pallavi Rastogi argues that postcolonial fiction about catastrophe is underpinned by a Disaster Unconscious, a buried but mobile agenda that forces disastrous events to narrate themselves. She writes that in disaster fiction, a literary Story and its real-life Event are in constant dialectic tension. In recent disasters, Story and Event are tied together as the urgency to circulate information and rebuild in the aftermath of the disaster dictates the flow of the narrative. As the Story acquires temporal distance from the Event, such as the seventy-three years since the partition of India in 1947, it plays more with form and theme, to expand beyond a tale about an all-consuming tragedy. Story and Event are in a constant dance with each other, and the Disaster Unconscious plays the tune to which they move.
Rastogi creates a narratology for postcolonial disaster fiction and brings concepts from Disaster Studies into the realm of literary analysis.
“Articulating a persuasive theory of the disaster unconscious, Pallavi Rastogi’s narratology of postcolonial disaster fiction highlights the ways in which literary texts attempt to redress disasters on both aesthetic and pedagogical registers. Through a set of close readings that revivify some of the foundational concerns of postcolonial theory—including the centrality of the nation-state—this book at the same time retools postcolonial studies to address newly emerging challenges. A must-read.” —Gaurav Desai, author of Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India and the Afrasian Imagination
“Pallavi Rastogi reanimates the core concerns of postcolonial studies about social and political justice by outlining a disaster unconscious of twenty-first century literature from Southern Africa and South Asia. Rastogi shows how old questions are new again as the many disasters of the twenty-first century—from nuclear war to AIDS to economic collapse to earthquakes and tsunamis—entail an urgent rethinking of crisis, catastrophe, narrative, and healing.”
—Yogita Goyal, author of Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature