Although chick lit, epitomized by novels such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, has been analyzed by feminist critics as an example of postfeminist culture, the transnational spread of the genre has resulted in transformations that invite fresh consideration. In the Indian context, chick lit emerged in the aftermath of economic liberalization, contributing to the configuration of a new feminine subjectivity—“the single woman in the city.” This article argues that the discourse of singleness in Indian chick lit is deployed not so much to solve the problem of singleness through marriage but to resolve the tension between the demands of “Indian tradition” on middle-class young women and their desire for a selfhood inflected by neoliberal discourses of autonomy. This dichotomy is symbolized in the novels in the tension between mothers and daughters and plays out primarily across the domains of choice of spouse, food, and dress. While tradition and modernity are conceptualized as binaries, the single women in these novels seem to be wrestling with a way of articulating a selfhood without having to pick a side. In their refusal to conform to ideas of Indian selfhood wherein individualism is circumscribed by autonomy, the “single woman” presents, if not ideally represents, the idea of synthesis.
Flight from the Womb: Mothers and Daughters in Indian Chick Lit
Charmaine Carvalho is an independent scholar who earned her PhD from Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research interests are gender, feminism, and popular culture. She is the author of Chick Lit in India: Possibilities for a Feminine Aesthetics in Popular Fiction published in The Polish Journal of Aesthetics.
Charmaine Carvalho; Flight from the Womb: Mothers and Daughters in Indian Chick Lit. positions 1 November 2019; 27 (4): 713–737. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7726955
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