Angelo Monaco

The Persistence of Nationalism in Bangladeshi Postmillennial Fiction: Realism and Dystopia in Neamat Imam’s The Black Coat

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Informations and abstract

Keywords: Neamat Imam, Bangladeshi literature, nationalism, dystopia, realism.

My article analyses Neamat Imam’s The Black Coat (2013) as an exemplificative case study of the Bangladeshi postmillennial literary scene. I contend that, whereas Bangladeshi literature has seen the emergence of prominent diasporic voices by opening to the market of the English language, Imam can be said to draw on a traditional realistic style as his debut novel chronicles a tragic moment in Bangladeshi post-Independence history. In this regard, my essay takes it as a working hypothesis that Imam’s narrative conveys a critical revision of postcolonial Bangladesh and it does so by intertwining realism and dystopia. On the one hand, the novel privileges a dystopian aesthetic that engages with the catastrophes of the present, thus echoing the colonial past and foreshadowing an unpromising future. On the other hand, The Black Coat resists the hallucinatory effects of dystopia owing to the realist mode the narrative hinges around. My essay aims to show how nationalism still represents a trend in contemporary Anglophone literature and how, in certain respects, Imam’s novel denounces fundamental contradictions that are still current in Bangladesh in the age of globalisation.

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