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Mimi Mondal, a New York-based Indian Dalit girl has become the first Indian to be nominated for this year’s prestigious Hugo Awards, for the best literary works of science fiction or fantasy in the Best Related Works category, said media reports.

Voting for the awards opened this month and will be on through July. The awards will be presented on August 19.

Mimi Mondal who describes herself as ‘punk Dalit girl’, told news portal Quint: “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.”

About the world of fiction, she said: “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.”

About identifying herself with the punk culture, Mondal said, “Punk culture came from the working classes. It came up as a rebellion to the mainstream ‘respectable’ culture.”

“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.”

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

She also received the Poetry with Prakriti Prize in 2010, the Octavia E. Butler Scholarship for the Clarion West Writing Workshop in 2015 and the Immigrant Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2017, according to the web portal feminisminindia.com.

Her first book, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited with Alexandra Pierce, is a finalist for the Hugo Awards 2018 and the Locus Awards 2018.

“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,” Mondal said.

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, said the Quint.

“Professionally, Mimi is trained as an editor. She worked at Penguin Random House India between 2012 and 2013, and was a Commonwealth Scholar in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling, Scotland between 2013 and 2015. She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Rutgers University, and looks forward to teaching creative writing,” says her website

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