Interpreter of Maladies
By Jhumpa Lahiri
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780395927205, 208pp.)
Publication Date: June 1999
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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. She is an important and powerful new voice.
JHUMPA LAHIRI is the author of three books, most recently Unaccustomed Earth. Her debut collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and her work has been translated into twenty-nine languages.
- What kinds of marriage are presented in the stories? One reviewer has written that Lahiri's "subject is not love's failure, ... but the opportunity that an artful spouse (like an artful writer) can make of failure ... " Do you agree or disagree with that assessment?
"[Lahiri] announces herself as a wonderfully distinctive new voice. Indeed, Ms. Lahiri's prose is so eloquent and assured that the reader easily forgets the 'Interpreter of Maladies' is a young writer's first book...Ms. Lahiri chronicles her characters' lives with both objectivity and compassion while charting the emotional temperature of their lives with tactile precision. She is a writer of uncommon elegance and poise, and with 'Interpreter of Maldies' she has made a precocious debut." The New York Times
"Lahiri's touch in these nine tales is delicate, but her observations remain damningly accurate, and her bittersweet stories are unhampered by nostalgia..." Publishers Weekly
"Lahiri's touch is delicate yet assured, leaving no room for flubbed notes or forced epiphanies." The Los Angeles Times
"Dazzling writing, an easy-to-carry paperback format and a budget-respecting price tag of $12: Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies possesses these three qualities, making it my book of choice this summer every time someone asks for a recommendation...Simply put, Lahiri displays a remarkable maturity and ability to imagine other lives...[E]ach story offers something special. Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies will reward readers." USA Today
"[S]torytelling of surpassing kindness and skill." The San Francisco Chronicle
"India is an inescapable presence in this strong first collection's nine polished and resonant tales, most of which have appeared in The New Yorker and other publications." Kirkus Reviews