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Friday, January 13, 2012

Second Source

So I decided to just go with The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay. Part of that choice was time constraints, part of it was I actually kind of think it applies. The questions were definitely awkward to answer for this book, since it is not a scholarly source, per se. It will have great bearing on my project, however. So thus I think it works as a source. At least at the beginning. This weekend especially, and next week I am really going to focus on lining up some good sources from a more academic/methodological perspective. I will have to get into the archive of past projects to see what other people have done with similar topics and maybe use them as sources to analyze or maybe I can even cannibalize their sources to jump start my own research.

This weekend I am going to go through everything I need to do and what I want to do with this project. I am kind of struggling with figuring out what direction to go for research, since I am not exactly sure where to find scholarly sources and methodology on a project like this.

Anyhow, source दो after the jump.

The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Shanghvi, Siddharth Dhanvant. The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010. Print.

1. What is the stated purpose (the argument or thesis)?

While not a scholarly source per se, this book provides a fascinating look at the state of modern Indian literature in English. The thesis of the book itself would be something along the lines of that love is necessary for humans to be happy, and that love and friendship can come from unexpected places, especially if you let it. The concept of love, especially the use of love based relationships as opposed to arranged relationships, plays a huge role in this novel as the author explores what it means and the ways in which it manifests. He covers both heterosexual as well as homosexual love a long with the love exhibited between friends and the complex love relationships that exist in families.

2. What evidence does the author provide to support his or her main argument? How is the author attempting to logically prove his or her thesis and how does this affect the organization of the document?

Supporting the main argument is not quite as important in this case as having the argument to begin with. The fascinating thing about this book is that the author even approaches these topics in this manner at all. While superficially western, in reality, this book is thoroughly Indian in its perspective. The argument itself is fairly unique because it has not appeared much in Indian fiction up to this point, especially in a book that is far more popular in India than it has been in the United States. This perspective could just be another evidence of the continued colonized mindset of India, or it could also be a sign of a significant departure from dependency on the West as the center of the literary universe.

3. Who is the audience? What does the author assume the audience already knows about the topic?

Interestingly, the audience of the book is wealthy Indians. Shanghvi wrote it with the middle and upper classes in mind who would be familiar with and understand the Indian pop culture references he makes throughout the book. To truly catch everything going on in the book, you would have to be fairly familiar with modern Indian culture and history, as well as up to day on politics and celebrity gossip. The book also seems to assume the sort of soft racism, I guess you could say, that many modern Indians hold towards the United States and Britain.

4. Describe the author’s methods (i.e. how does the author know what he or she knows). In your opinion, were they appropriate? Why or why not?

Shanghvi knows what he knows because he has sort of lived this life. It is by no means biographical, but many of the events and characters have similarities to Shanghvi himself. He is a fairly wealthy, well-travelled Indian who takes an interest in Indian pop culture. This qualifies him to write a novel of this sort. While not a philosophical treatise, the book does seek to explain his ideas about love and friendship as well as explore human sexuality. In this way, I think a novel is an appropriate format for that, at least to develop certain ideas that the author has thought about before writing a more official, scholarly document or book.

5. To what other sources (theorist, researchers, artists) does the author refer? Explain the specific ideas the author draws upon from these other sources to support his or her own argument (the theoretical framework).

He doesn’t necessarily reference anything directly except for recent developments in pop culture and politics. However, even these are softened under the traditional “all persons/events in this book are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidence” except for a few references to pop culture icons like Shah Rukh Khan who are larger than life anyways. From these public happenings, Shanghvi weaves his story and draws meaning from the events of celebrities and the lives they lead; however the book itself is informed by Shanghvi’s ideas as the main driving force, and not so much exterior events. There is probably something that inspired these ideas initially, however there does not seem to be any hard references to draw on in the novel itself.

6. What are the connections between this source and your project? How useful or applicable is this source’s approach to your own project? How is yours new and different?

This source is not necessarily a practical source of information as far as methodology goes, but it does work to inform the kinds of questions I will be answering in my project. Shanghvi’s novel is very interesting to my topic because it represents a distinct style of Indian writing and perspective that is very different than mainstream western writing in English even though it bears many superficial similarities. Books like these help to orient me in the topic to get a feel for what is out there and what is currently popular in the Indian literary market.

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