A quote from The Mango Season (2003), a novel by Amulya Malladi I’m currently reading:
I had always thought that self-evaluation was nonsense. It didn’t really mean anything. How could you not know yourself? I believe we know who we are, we know the exact truth about ourselves, and it is when this truth is not palatable that we want to dig deeper within our conscience to find something better, something we can live with.
Could be seen as harsh criticism of those who are trying to find themselves…
This novel is part of the wave of recent English-language Indian literature, mostly written by women authors, probing the Indian roots vs. diaspora theme. Some of the better known authors are Jhumpa Lahiri (The Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, now also a film by Mira Nair) and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (The Mistress of Spices, turned into a – fairly weak – film with India’s superstar Aishwarya Rai).
James – I am curious to know, does the author, after making such a statement, proceed to make of the novel a journey of self-evaluation, self-discovery?
This quote reads as a kind of bomb dropped, like a challenge, that must be followed up in the aftermath to discover if such a statement could be true. Without prior or post context, one could make the argument that it is a statement of “harsh criticism” as you say.
I picked this quote because it really stuck out in the flow of the novel as something very much “quotable.”
It is the protagonist’s statement about herself. But she proceeds, “Did I need to dig deeper now, to explore who I was beyond Nick’s Priya and Ma’s Priya?”
She is discovering that she is someone different to different people and in different worlds.
You’re right, it is a “challenge” whose truth must be examined.
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