Set in a fictionalized version of Bhopal, India, Indra Sinha's Animal's People is a vivid dramatization of disempowerment and environmental injustice, juxtaposed with the power of narrative and the resilience of communal spirit. Perhaps most intriguingly, it presents hopelessness as a source of strength, the enigmatic "power of zero" possessed by those who having nothing. This article uses Sinha's remarkable novel to think about the novel form as a model for applied social change. The challenge lies in the dynamics of scale. The locus of individual action and identity politics usually associated with the novel form is inadequate to address the issues of aggregation, collectivity, and networked interconnection that are the stuff of global crisis in human and ecological health, especially the elusive the imperative to "go to scale." By contrast, this essay argues that the novel be treated as a thought experiment in the quantum physics of social change.


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pp. 177-198
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