On Reading Transformation in Desai’s "Hullabaloo in the Guava Orcha"

Sonakshi Srivastava, Ashoka University

Originally published in 1998, Kiran Desai’s Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard deals with the life of a young man, Sampath who seeks solace from the clamour of incomprehensible existence in a guava orchard. He does so after being bored of his frustrated attempts to make a mark in the commercial and familial world.

Through a close reading of the text, I will attempt to unravel how the metamorphic imaginations at work in and within the text functions as the exponents of existential and personal navigation for the protagonist. Sampath’s metamorphosis into a guava offers a radical reading and understanding of our entangled existence, and how such metamorphosis allows us to examine our lives so as to re-assess our existence in the face of capitalism, its impact on the flora and fauna and how a possible Buddhist approach may help curb our materialism so as to ensure a sustainable and green future. I will place the novel in conversation with Sumana Roy’s part memoir, part literary fiction How I Became a Tree published in 2017 to accentuate my claims, and highlight the commonalities that bind the metamorphic (and Buddhist) imaginings in the two texts.

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