‘Hearts of Darkness’ in Shining India. Maps of Ecological Un-Sustainability in the North-East

by Rossella Ciocca

A number of recent novels have chosen to variously address the existing conditions of the multi-ethnic mosaic of the Indian North-East. These works of fiction shed light upon a dramatic contemporary condition and propound an alternative historical archive able to perturb the current image of India as a neo-liberal, globalized super power. Indeed, in India’s complex, uneven and contradictory patterns of economic and technological progress, perspectives of development prove highly controversial. In Surface, a novella written in 2005 by Siddhartha Deb, set in the Northeastern region and seemingly modeled upon Conrad’s colonial archetype Heart of Darkness, a post-millennial social community of investors, executives, administrators, traders, politicians, journalists, social workers and rebels, inhabit a very complex, and ‘dark’, territorial reality.