Torn between Cultures: Reading Shashi Tharoor’s Riot
Keywords:Cultural conflict, collision, Identity, Ideology, History
Shashi Tharoor is a distinctivevoice in the Postcolonial Indian literature in English with his remarkable contribution of more than 16 works of fiction and non-fiction. Postcolonialism refers to a set of theoretical concepts, approaches and interventions which deals with the diverse effects of the interaction between the colonizer and the colonized. History, politics and culture have always been a dominant preoccupation of the Indian English novelists. The compulsive obsession was perhaps inevitable since the genre originated and developed concurrently with the climatic phase of colonial rule. As a diplomat and writer, Shashi Tharoor has explored the diversity of culture in his native country. He has made his point in many of his interviews that the novel is full of collisions of various sorts- personal, political, cultural, emotional and violent. Riot is a novel about the ownership of history, about love, hate, cultural collision, religious fanaticism and the impossibility of knowing the truth. The novel chronicles the mystery of an American 24-year old lady, Priscilla Hart. The intention of this paper is to explore the cultural conflict between the East and the West and an attempt is made to examine Shashi Tharoor’s Riot as a conveyor of the various distinguishable features to the divergent cultures. The characters of Riot are facing problems and striving to achieve their identities as Indians and as individuals in Indian society. Lakshman, though an educated Indian, cannot share his intellectual ideas with any fellow Indians, but feels quite comfortable with Priscilla, an American lady. Yet, he cannot completely forego his Indian identity and is aware of their irreconcilable gap between their culture, values and outlook towards life.
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