Are certain works of fiction valid for the study of development? The premise of this working paper by David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers and Michael Woolcock is that they are. This paper is a challenge to development practitioners and academics “to include fictional representations of development issues within the scope of what they consider to be ‘proper’ forms of development knowledge”.

From time immemorial, humans have learned through stories.  A work of fiction, by its very nature, can present a more nuanced, more accurate picture of the reality of development than scholarly works and reach a much wider audience. The paper quotes examples of novels that bring development issues to life. One of these is Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance set in India which, by following the lives of four characters, deals with poverty, state violence, rural to urban migration and communal tensions in a way that a scholarly work couldn’t.

Thanks, Joannah Caborn-Wengler, for sharing this! The paper  published by the Development Studies Institute, LSE, can be found on the LSE website. Would love to have your thoughts on it.