Book of the Week #34: [Guest Post]


Led by this dauntless young lady, we continue this month of literary heavyweights with what is probably the very first Pulitzer Prize winner of our list.

Let us all strap in, shall we?


Interpreter of Maladies,

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Interpreter of Maladies is one of the most recognised works of its London-born American author of Indian descent, Jhumpa Lahiri.

A collection of nine short stories, the book is heralded as an impeccable narrative of the immigrant experience. After having read a short story from the same book—that goes by the same name—for an English course, I was not entirely sure how I felt about it. But I was eager to read more from the book. I recently did, and let’s say, I am not disappointed!

Lahiri writes in a language that is captivating and simple at the same time. She creates a vivid imagery that takes you into the very heartland of the places where her stories are based. Most of her stories among the nine revolve around the lives of Indian-Americans and it’s not difficult to guess why; Lahiri is a first generation Indian-American herself. Even in the stories that do not exclusively talk about Indian-Americans, you sense a kind of familiarity and intimacy that only a writer of Lahiri’s caliber can provide.

“When I first started writing I was not conscious that my subject was the Indian-American experience. What drew me to my craft was the desire to force the two worlds I occupied to mingle on the page as I was not brave enough, or mature enough, to allow in life.”

The experiences of the characters in her stories, many of which are said to be autobiographical, or rather, her own family’s, evoke strong emotions, and you find yourself rooting for the characters that are so distant, yet so familiar to yourself.

Lahiri does not paint a stereotypical or one-sided picture of the immigrant experience; rather she pictures something incredibly colourful, depicting many facets of the experience. The hopes, the dreams, the tribulations as people try to embrace a new land as their own.

The widespread popularity of this book just goes on to show that human emotions are universal, transcending beyond borders and cultures. In narrating these tales that speak of cross-cultural understanding and more, Jhumpa Lahiri becomes what she named her book aptly, an interpreter of maladies.


You can start reading the book here:

Do let us know what you think…

Well, that is all for tonight. We will be back, next week.

Thank you.

Published by

Shruti Badole

PhD Astrophysics student at the University of Manchester. Has an unhealthy obsession with bookshops, chocolates, her vocal chords, Ed Sheeran, 90s Indian pop music, and good conversations.

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