Searching for an Environmental Identity: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (1996) by Kiran Desai
This paper analyses Kiran Desai’s Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (1996) from an ecocritical perspective, with the aim to highlight that contemporary Indian narratives in English still honour a conceptualisation of nature as a place in which one can find peaceful and spiritual solace and retreat. Moreover, Desai presents in this novel the themes of identity and alienation closely linked to the natural environment, which justifies an ecocritical reading of the novel in the light of concepts like “place,” “dwelling,” and “thinking” as explained by Heidegger (“Building Dwelling Thinking”). These become especially illustrated in the development of the main character, Sampath Chawla, who searches for his genuine identity in the midst of the hullabaloo caused by the clash between tradition and modernity, the local and the global in the postcolonial microcosm of Shahkot, a small northern Indian village. This analysis, therefore, proves how the aforementioned Heideggerian concepts become especially relevant when it comes to identifying what we think ("thinking”) and, most specifically, what we are (“being”) as related to the natural environment, which fully justifies an ecocritical lens.
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