Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of  9 short stories written by Jhumpa Lahiri.  One of my friends, ( crazy about books ) was waiting for one her books to be released and said she is a really good writer. So, when I found this book at Reliance Time Out book store in a newly opened mall in Cochin, I picked it up …

It was not an easy read for me at first… well, it happens with me, every time I read a new author. It takes a little time to get used to their language, and their style of writing.  Later, I decided that I should read the first story again, so that I can fully enjoy it, because it was too good to miss anything.

Most of the stories take you to the lives of Indian Immigrants in the US, most of them Bengalis ( Bengal, Boston and beyond, says the cover of the book ). The basic structure of those stories, is placing an Indian character, or emotion next to it’s American version or something similar, and let you walk around these two and explore them or find differenes or similarities and most important of all, experience them.  The author travels with you when you walk around these things, but you will never feel her presence. She leaves you to discover the characters and their lives on your own. The Language is perfect, and rarely found. 

The characters and their surroundings looked similar in a couple of stories. Adding this to the fact that she has written about Indian immigrants in the US in almost all of her stories,  makes me feel that she has written something that she experienced, or something she watched very closely for a long period. She must have taken these characters and stories, from her life or life of people she is closely associated with. 

You will find a husband who is worried about his wife, coming to the US for the first time after their marriage,thinking how she  is going to adjust with the new culture and new life. In another story, you will  find a wife, ( just like the other story, apartment in a University complex, Bengali, and not very familiar with the life around her ) worried about her family back home, and little confused in the new life that she has found herself in. In the same story, you will find a young American boy trying hard to understand an Indian women. In another story, you get an American girl trying to understand the Indian family, and especially husband wife relationship. 

Interpreter of Maladies was a nice experience for me. It made me take short breaks after each story and think over it for sometime before going to the next one. At the end, the author left me with this, which made me think even more

“I have remained in this world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. 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”

PS: I read the first book in the Harry Potter series, ( and that leaves me with only the last book to cover !! )  before reading this one and that makes me feel that I am almost back on track.

8 Comments

  1. The only Jhumpa Lahiri book i have read is “The Namesake” which was made into a movie starring Tabu and Irfan Khan.

    Looks like you are on a reading spree ;) Good going.

  2. I’ll echo that Namesake was good. Dude if you can read short stories by Satyajit Ray, you’ll love them. And I am glad the reader block is going.

  3. I read this book sometime back. Loved it, especially the first story.

  4. I read this book cover to cover so breathlessly. I am reading unaccustomed earth this summer and i cannot wait!

    • Yes ! It’s a really good book … I haven’t read Unaccustomed Earth … let me know your thoughts about it if you get time to read it ..

  5. Lahiri makes no bones about dealing with the difficulties of being an immigrant, and there is an undercurrent of distaste for American consummerism. In fact, while I got a lot out of the stories about how difficult it can be to communicate, how much people want to be loved, and how an author can write very simply but with beauty and profoundness.i just became the fan of lahiri.

Comments are closed.