This essay examines the Hindi Nayī Kahānī, or New Story, Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which was influential for the short stories, criticism, and literary history that its writers produced. Incorporating a view toward the larger “metaliterary” corpus in relation to which properly “literary” nayī kahānī texts were written, the essay shows how the movement inaugurated a modernist realism characterized by attention to genre, rhetoric, and style on one hand, and commitment to social reality on the other. Combining rhetorical strategies—such as shifting narrative voice, allegorical descriptions of landscape, and implicit reference to authorship and the condition of postcolonial literary production—with structural and thematic tensions between form and content, this mode developed an interchangeability between author, reader, and character, which did not previously exist in Hindi literature and which reconfigured the category of the middle class in the universally recognizable terms of alienation. Using the case of the nayī kahānī, the essay offers a new literary historical approach that moves beyond sweeping accounts of a single postcolonial mode to attend to regional realisms and modernisms.

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