Interpreter of Maladies
Why Interpreter of Maladies and New England
This collection of short stories was on my “must read one day” list for a long time. I read it about six months ago and was profoundly moved by the characters and the glimpses of their lives that Lahiri created. These are universal stories that we can all relate to on some level regardless of our race or history. I paired this book with New England because Lahiri has a strong connection with Boston and several of the stories in this collection are set in Boston.
More About Interpreter of Maladies
Interpreter of Maladies is a book collection of nine short stories by Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri published in 1999. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award in the year 2000 and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. It was also chosen as The New Yorker’s Best Debut of the Year and is on Oprah Winfrey’s Top Ten Book List.
Navigating between the Indian traditions they’ve inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In “A Temporary Matter,” published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant.
For a full summary and analysis of the nine short stories, see the Wikipedia entry for Interpreter of Maladies.
Jhumpa Lahiri was born Nilanjana Sudeshna but goes by her nickname (or in Bengali, her “Daak naam”) Jhumpa. In 2003, Lahiri published The Namesake, her first novel. The story spans over 30 years in the life of the Ganguli family. The Calcutta-born parents immigrated as young adults to the United States, where their children, Gogol and Sonia, grow up experiencing the constant generational and cultural gap with their parents. A film adaptation of The Namesake was released in March 2007, directed by Mira Nair and starring Kal Penn as Gogol and Bollywood stars Tabu and Irrfan Khan as his parents. Lahiri herself made a cameo as “Aunt Jhumpa.
Lahiri is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama. Her book The Lowland, published in 2013, was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. Lahiri is currently a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.