This article articulates how an epistemology of ignorance structures the postcolonial metropolitan critic’s knowledge about a particular fraught state in India, Assam. Using the term agnotology, coined by Robert Proctor, rather than agniology, it examines two novels, Missing by Bengali writer Sumana Roy and The House with a Thousand Stories by Assamese novelist and poet Aruni Kashyap, to show that, despite their crucial differences in form, style, and narration, both novels use a locally inflected English language to tell stories about how rumor and gossip destroy families and communities living in the shadow of insurgencies and state violence. The Anglophone metropolitan postcolonial critic’s often-shallow knowledge about a region, its literature and deep politics, and their many rationalizations about why it is so, dovetails with the manner in which lies, exaggerated and fake news, shape and produce what counts as knowledge in these Indian Anglophone novels. Both works evoke the failure of a poetics and politics of familial and extrafamilial relations to underline how death and the disappearance of women from families, from society, and from the news enable a comparison of the inventive engagements with gender to understand the relationship of ignorance to truth.

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