Friday, May 1, 2009

Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies
Originally uploaded by Lisaboly
Rating: 4/5

I just finished Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies". It actually wasn't the shiny Pulitzer Prize sticker on the front of the book that initially got my attention - it was some one's blog that said that this book was great for anyone that struggled to find a place to belong.

I thought.... this is the book for me!

I was a little disappointed because I expected a novel and this is actually a book of short stories. They were great short stories though. Lahiri is also the author of "The Namesake", which is a movie that I LOVE, but I haven't read the book.

All of Lahiri's stories in this book also deal with an Indian identity in some ways. A few stories were set totally within the Indian culture, but most dealt with immigration and the cultural identity of Indians in American and the UK. Lahiri seamlessly weaves each story together with a different dynamic. One story would have to do with an arranged marriage of two Indian Americans in America. One tells of an Americanized family returning as tourists to India. Another looks through the eyes of a young Indian-American girl at a man studying in the US with his family left in war-torn Bangladesh. Then there's a little white boy who is watching a newly arrived woman adjust to life in the US.

Each story weaves intense family, marriage, and generational dynamics on the tapestry of Indian culture, showing the tension of change and tradition, love and pain. Lahiri's stories are the kind that you really can't quote because the point is illustrated so completely by the story itself that it is never stated - it is just played out before your eyes. That is true fiction.

1 comment:

  1. I've sometimes been disappointed in Pulitzer books. I think they often give the award more for books the committee perceives as "important" or "morally edifying" rather than skillfully put together. That said, I'm looking forward to reading Olive Kitteridge, this year's winner, about which I've only heard very good things.