Meet the ‘Punk Dalit Girl’ Who Is India’s First Hugo Nominee

Meet the ‘Punk Dalit Girl’ Who Is India’s First Hugo Nominee

NEON

Mimi Mondal, who describes herself as ‘punk Dalit girl’ on Twitter, is India’s first nominee for the prestigious Hugo Awards — given annually for the best literary works of science fiction or fantasy — in the Best Related Works category.

Mondal is a New York-based writer of speculative fiction and social justice non-fiction. She is also the poetry and reprint editor of Uncanny Magazine, a science fiction and fantasy magazine which has been nominated twice for the Hugo Awards.

This year, Mondal has been nominated for her co-edited work Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E Butler.

In this book, we collected letters that authors had written to the eminent African-American woman science fiction and fantasy writer, Octavia E Butler. In these letters — we have over forty of them — the authors talk about their own journeys as writers and how Butler’s work has inspired them.
Mimi Mondal

Mondal grew up in Kolkata, trained as an editor, and studied in Scotland and New York. In 2015, she received the Octavia E Butler Memorial Scholarship that enables writers of colour to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops, where Butler herself got her start in writing.

As a Dalit woman science fiction writer, Mimi has been pegged to an array of stereotypes.

For a very long time, it has been impossible to be a writer in science fiction internationally if you weren’t white, or especially if you weren’t a white man.
Mimi Mondal
Aliens always somehow end up in the United States even if they don’t know what the US is. Completely different universes like Star Wars or the Middle Earth, which have nothing to do with our world, are inhabited by white people, as if people like us don’t exist.
Mimi Mondal

Mimi’s ‘punk Dalit girl’ persona is a lighthearted but emphatic take on stereotypes in science fiction.

Punk culture came from the working classes. It came up as a rebellion to the mainstream ‘respectable’ culture.
Mimi Mondal
In science fiction, there are the sub-genres of Cyberpunk and Steampunk. What these ‘punk’ suffixes are doing is that they are telling brave, path-breaking, and subversive stories. As a Dalit person, this sensibility really resonates with me. We have to fight for our place every day.
Mimi Mondal

Video Editor: Ashish MacCune

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