Humanizing Corporeal Spectacle: Humor and Resistance in Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People

Simon C. Estok

Published Date: Feb 28, 2022


This article examines Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People and the comments it makes about the long- term corporeal effects of environmental catastrophes. Sinha’s choice of a first person narrative strategy strongly sharpens the visceral impact of the story. The narrator is a lovably unlovable misfit who has been deformed and crippled by an industrial disaster that claimed thousands of lives. While the effects of the disaster play out through the body of the narrator himself (he calls himself “Animal” because he is so deformed), they are more than merely bodily effects: they are psychological, social, economic, developmental, sexual, and so on. Animal is a spectacle, and his very existence calls into question the boundary between what is human and what is not. The story he tells reveals the effects of capitalist racism and greed and raises questions about environmental justice issues and corporate responsibility. These are important questions that are inseparable from the material facts of Animal’s broken body. It is a deadly serious topic that Animal narrates, but he does it with humor (often self-deprecating), and it is precisely this humor that ultimately both humanizes him and intensifies the impact of the narrative itself.


corporeal theory, monstrosity, disability studies, ecocriticism, narrative method

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)