The in-between identity, mainly female, has been the focus of most contemporary English-language Young Adult novels by Indian diaspora authors (Superle, 2011). The hybrid self illustrated in those texts is metaphorically characterised as “Masala”, referring to the blend of spices used to add flavour to the Indian cuisine. However, within the genre at hand, little focus has been given to psychologically rounded female protagonists and masculinities have been almost invisible. An atypical approach to bicultural identities and gender performance has been adopted by the award-winning Indo-American author of “Masala-marinated” fiction Rajdeep Paulus, whose representation of girlhood and masculinity is realistic and inspiring for a young audience. After outlining the main features of Masala literature (Kumar, 2003), I will discuss to what extent Paulus departs from the standard portrayal of the “New Indian Girl” (Bohemer, 2005; Superle, 2011) in her novel Swimming Through Clouds (2013). I will then move on to the analysis of the masculinities presented in the novel (Connel, 2005; Sinha, 2016), thus showing how giving visibility to both positive and negative examples of masculinity is a necessary condition if socio-cultural needs are to be met (Priya, 2014). In conclusion, as a powerful ideological tool, Masala Young Adult fiction should provide a realistic description of the deep problematic identity transition of bicultural selves as well as a thorough representation of masculinities alongside femininities in order to stimulate the young adult audience to explore and create their own identities and develop a positive attitude towards the norms of gender equality.

Girlhood and Masculinity in Rajdeep Paulus's Swimming Through Clouds: An Atypical "Masala" Young Adult Novel

Sofia Cavalcanti
2019

Abstract

The in-between identity, mainly female, has been the focus of most contemporary English-language Young Adult novels by Indian diaspora authors (Superle, 2011). The hybrid self illustrated in those texts is metaphorically characterised as “Masala”, referring to the blend of spices used to add flavour to the Indian cuisine. However, within the genre at hand, little focus has been given to psychologically rounded female protagonists and masculinities have been almost invisible. An atypical approach to bicultural identities and gender performance has been adopted by the award-winning Indo-American author of “Masala-marinated” fiction Rajdeep Paulus, whose representation of girlhood and masculinity is realistic and inspiring for a young audience. After outlining the main features of Masala literature (Kumar, 2003), I will discuss to what extent Paulus departs from the standard portrayal of the “New Indian Girl” (Bohemer, 2005; Superle, 2011) in her novel Swimming Through Clouds (2013). I will then move on to the analysis of the masculinities presented in the novel (Connel, 2005; Sinha, 2016), thus showing how giving visibility to both positive and negative examples of masculinity is a necessary condition if socio-cultural needs are to be met (Priya, 2014). In conclusion, as a powerful ideological tool, Masala Young Adult fiction should provide a realistic description of the deep problematic identity transition of bicultural selves as well as a thorough representation of masculinities alongside femininities in order to stimulate the young adult audience to explore and create their own identities and develop a positive attitude towards the norms of gender equality.
Literature, Gender and Education for Children and Young Adults
47
58
Sofia Cavalcanti
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/728218
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