Surviving Subjectivities: Negotiating Subaltern Agency in South Asian Novel

  • Sania Gul Department of English, Islamia College Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
  • Zahid Ali Shah, Dr. Department of English, Islamia College Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan


This paper critically analyses The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and Brick Lane by Monica Ali with Spivak’s work as literary practice. This enabled the understanding of both the problems and possibilities that Spivak’s work holds while the paper also extends and repositions South Asian women’s writing. While interrogating the subaltern agency and subjectivity within the dominant ideological paradigms, the paper engages with the politicized readings of the South Asian novel written by women which is brought into dialogue with attention to literary form. This research also highlights the need for further investigation of literary forms used by postcolonial women writers to develop a deeper understanding of the interconnections between realist and postmodern styles and the representations of female experience. The different conclusions of the chosen novels suggest diversity and complexity not only in methods and strategies of representing women but also in degrees of agency, discrimination, oppression, and choice of action among the leading female characters. This results in interpretive diversity and variety in the texts which resist simple conclusions about homogenous subaltern oppression which the readers make. Through characters like Ali’s Nazneen, Roy’s Ammu, and Rahel, the selected authors succeed in creating complex models of women with heterogeneous experiences, where a woman is modern and traditional, marginalized and resistant, silent and resilient. Postcolonial women writers depict female characters that showcase the social problems as well as their solutions.

Keywords: Subaltern, Spivak, South Asian fiction, resistance, and subjectivity


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How to Cite
GUL, Sania; SHAH, Zahid Ali. Surviving Subjectivities: Negotiating Subaltern Agency in South Asian Novel. University of Chitral Journal of Linguistics & Literature, [S.l.], v. 6, n. I, p. 133-143, mar. 2022. ISSN 2663-1512. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 29 may 2023. doi: