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Title: A mouthful of silence and the place of nostalgia in diaspora writing : home and belonging in the short fiction of Bharati Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri
Author: Ruia, Reshma
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 9822
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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A Mouthful of Silence is a novel set in Manchester. It is about a middle-aged Indian man, PK Monghia, who is full of regrets and bitterness about getting old and the steady decline of his business. He still has an appetite for love and happiness, but feels trapped in his marriage to Geeta. Their only child, Sammy, is a disappointment too. Born after several miscarriages, he is the focus of excessive maternal devotion on the part of Geeta and an object of contempt in the eyes of PK, who wanted a sporty son, a reflection of his own golden youth. A new woman enters the barren landscape of PK's emotional life. She is Esther Solomon, rich, beautiful, vivacious. She is all that his life is not. She also happens to be the wife of a competitor, Cedric Solomon, who is successful and powerful and a constant reminder of what PK might have been. PK and Esther are drawn to each other and embark on a love affair that distracts PK and fills him with guilt that he pushes aside time and again. PK begins neglecting his business and his family, and he fails to notice his son's growing friendship and obsession with a more street-wise girl, Alice. Sammy gradually changes from a molly-coddled boy into a surly, uncommunicative teenager with secrets. Geeta meanwhile watches the slow unravelling of her family life, and PK is never quite sure whether she has discovered his affair. Events unfold that compel PK to make choices. He is forced to confront his ambiguous morality and to question the nature and meaning of love in all its guises. My thesis explores the main theoretical approaches surrounding diaspora and the concepts of home, belonging and nostalgia. It is my aim to extrapolate from the theoretical framework and apply their relevance and limitations to the study of the diasporic condition. My primary focus will be on the Indian diaspora within the United States and its portrayal in Bharati Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri's short fiction. More specifically, I wish to look closely at how nostalgia is both employed as a method and represented as a theme in creating and/or shaping the sense of belonging and home within their fictional narratives. Finally, I will place their work within the larger context of diaspora literature and analyse the overall diasporic literary response to established and often problematic understandings of nostalgia, home and belonging.
Supervisor: Hyland, Maria; Valassopoulos, Anastasia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Nostalgia ; Diaspora ; Home ; Belonging ; Bharati Mukherjee ; Jhumpa Lahiri