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Interpreter of Maladies 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.

  • Paperback
  • 198 pages
  • Interpreter of Maladies
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • English
  • 13 February 2018
  • 9780618101368

About the Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Nilanjana Sudeshna Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A in English literature from Barnard College in 1989 She then received multiple d

10 thoughts on “Interpreter of Maladies

  1. says:

    How s this for blurbs when the female author published this collection of short stories at age 32 in 1999, she won the Pulitzer Prize, the Pen Hemingway Award and the New Yorker s Debut Book of the Year Like the author s other collection of shorts that I have reviewed Unaccustomed Earth, 2008 these stories are about Bengali immigrants in the US from the Bengal area of India, around Kolkata formerly Calcutta There are about 250 million Bengalis in the subcontinent, about 2 3 making up the Muslim nation of Bangladesh and about 1 3, mostly Hindus, in West Bengal, a state in India But, with the exception of two stories, these folks are not urban slum dogs they are upper income folks with PhD s and MD s who grew up speaking English in India and who came to the USA to be doctors, professors and engineers in the high tech beltway bandit firms around Boston They live in Boston townhouses and upscale suburbs And there s a twist to saying these stories are about immigrants because most folks in these stories were fully assimilated into the global upper class before they even arrived in the USA.Here s a sample of what the nine stories are about In the title story, a man who is an interpreter of native Indian languages for a doctor is also a tour guide for visitors to India He tells this to a Bengali couple, with their kids, visiting from the states The wife, desperate for someone to confide in, thinks he is like a psychological counselor and pours out her secrets, shocking the tour guide In Mrs Sen s, an eleven year old boy learns the depth of the loneliness of a Bengali woman in Boston who desperately misses her native country and her large extended family back in India A Real Durwan is one of two stories set back in India, not in the USA A poverty stricken old woman, bent with age, has a job sweeping the stairwell in an apartment building She sleeps on a pile of rags below the mailboxes As improvements are made to the building the tenants decide they want a real concierge and toss her onto the street In Sexy, a young Bengali woman listens every day to her Bengali co worker aghast at the infidelity of her cousin s husband who has left his wife for a younger unmarried woman Although she and the co worker are best of friends, the Bengali woman can t tell her that she herself is having an affair with a married man.In This Blessed House, a young Bengali couple has just moved into a new home and they keep finding posters of Jesus behind closet doors, crosses, statues of Mary in the bushes and nativity scenes in nooks and corner Over her husband s objections, the wife collects these and displays them on the mantle We re not Christian, Sanjeev said Lately he had begun noticing the need to state the obvious to Twinkle Sanjeev is an introverted engineer And it could just be that life of the party Twinkle, despite her poor housekeeping skills, could just be the complementary partner Sanjeev needs if he has sense to hold on to her The stories in the author s collection, Unaccustomed Earth, were very good but Maladies is excellent No wonder it won so many awards Map from

  2. says:

    In 2000 Jhumpa Lahiri became the first Indian American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her short story collection The Interpreter of Maladies In these nine poignant stories, Lahiri relates the Indian immigrant experience, connecting the tales and creating one voice for them The stories shared a sadness of being separated from one s family by thousands of miles, yet also offered a glimmer of hope for their lives in India or the United States Not generally a reader of short stories, this year I read two powerful novels, Homegoing and The Book of Unknown Americans, which told one story in vignettes Unlike these two books, however, Maladies is nine separate stories which share one overarching theme The characters never meet even if they came from the same city in India to the same city in America, craving the company and friendship of other Indian Americans Lahiri does a masterful job of giving purpose to her protagonists even if in some cases we only get to know them for fifteen short pages As each story begins in a negative light and ends positively, the reader looks forward to each successive story in the collection Even though each story is brilliant in its own right, three stand out in creating an upbeat environment upon conclusion the keynote story The Interpreter of Maladies where Mrs Das comes to terms with herself as the story ends The Story of Bibi Haldar where the title character is ostracized and desires to marry above all else and the ending story The Third and Final Continent with an unnamed protagonist who looks back on his first days in America thirty years later All share the theme of Indians who find it easier to hang on their customs than assimilate, creating people proud of their culture yet longing for their old country This did not seem all too different to me than immigrants from other ethnicities and Lahiri does a superb job of making the Indian experience stand alone Lahiri was raised in suburban Boston in Rhode Island and appears to create her characters from childhood memories Whether it was two Indian girls going trick or treating or a newlywed couple grappling with whether to observe Hinduism or Christianity, the stories are written in a labor of love Each story is penned with the details of the color and texture of the women s saris to the brand of tea that the characters drank From reading the stories of of these immigrants, I felt empathy with their lives as second half twentieth century arrivals to America Jhumpa Lahiri has weaved together stories of sadness yet has her readers leave feeling positive about her characters Although short in length, each story is powerful from start to finish and has the readers desiring to know about the characters lives A collection worthy of the Pulitzer, I look forward to reading of Lahiri s work Interpreter of Maladies rates 5 bright stars.

  3. says:

    You know a book is good when someone asks you for a synopsis, or snippet, or impression, and all you can do is smile there, enveloped in some subtle magic that only you know about, kinda forget what it was all about altogether This happened with Interpreter of Maladies , a perfectly titled collection of short stories about Indian Americans in India or in the U.S Their ages experiences range from children to marrieds to 103 year olds, from tourism in the old world to the assimilation to a new one The first story makes me shiver just thinking about it I made my students read it as an example of the perfect short story the last one encapsulates the author s overall thesis perfectly It s all a masterpiece a true privilege to read.

  4. says:

    Writing short stories is not easy A novel is an easier literary form in a way it allows you the space for character and plot development and gives you the space to slowly fall in love with it Short story, on the other hand, is like literary speed dating it only has so much time to set itself apart and make a somewhat decent expression It s much easier for me to think of good novelists than good short story writers Let s try Hemingway, Poe, Bradbury, Chekhov, maybe a few Well, I guess Jhumpa Lahiri can join the exclusive club Her novel The Namesake left me wanting , but her short stories are very well done Apparently the Pulitzer people thought the same thing.If I were to describe the stories in Interpreter of Maladies in a single word, it d be melancholy They are permeated by quiet, subdued, rich, and almost beautiful sadness sorrow that paradoxically sometimes seems almost uplifting, even cathartic The stories are slow to unfold, contemplative, intensely lyrical, nostalgic, and quietly moving 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. Lahiri writes about India and Indian heritage, be it Indian immigrants to American university towns or people in India The country itself, its culture, its beliefs, its traditions, and the pain of missing it are ever present in her fiction The Namesake dealt with exactly the same premise, and the similarities between that novel and these stories are profound The similar theme, repeating over and over in the stories, makes you anticipate the storylines, but somehow it does not detract from enjoyment of the prose and the stories It s not about the plot Lahiri s storytelling hinges on the inner world of her characters, their hopes, dreams, and memories Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, then there is no obstacle he cannot conquer While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new 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. Overall, I enjoyed this story collection quite a bit I chose to ration it over a few days rather than swallow them all at once, and it was a good experience I definitely recommend this book and easily give it 4 stars Now I d be curious to see if and how Lahiri can expand her themes and touch on the subjects other than immigrant experience.

  5. says:

    Interpreter of maladies evokes that space in limbo, that straddling identity of immigrants trying to start a new life abroad and the cultural displacement they suffer both in their native and adopted countries Enriched with colorful details of the Indian tradition, cuisine and celebrations, this collection of nine stories addresses the universal struggle of getting adapted to the ways of a foreign homeland without losing one s original roots.Lahiri s prose is fluid and simple, but it than meets the challenge of building a bridge between two different worlds with amazing precision, delineating a tight knitted atmosphere that serves as common ground for all the stories Men and women who strive for balance in arranged marriages, resisting the strain of prolonged homesickness, isolation and guilt feelings deeply rooted in the complex web of human relationships that alter the way time, place and expectations are perceived.The characters that populate Lahiri s world live in the tense duality of being exiles, but proud to have left India to build a prosperous life in the West Their Indian heritage acts as a catalyzer for all the events that seem to unfold in slow motion like a sequence of images that uphold the solitary confinement of the characters, leading up to an anticlimactic outcome that is muffled by the mundane quality of the troubles that haunt them.The succinct, restrained expression of Lahiri s storytelling is gradually accumulated and acquires the poetic force of what has been hinted at but not completely articulated into words a full world of possibilities that amounts to a summation of silent questions that don t aspire to be answered The future is put on hold in that familiar sensation of not knowing what is going to cross our paths next, maybe an opportunity, maybe a reversal, maybe a caressing whisper that assures us that everything is going to be alright Or maybe all at once, making a perfect conjunction of imperfect circumstances, just like it happens often than not in everyday life.Maybe that s the reason why Lahiri s stories sound so intimate and real because they tell our life stories with all their mundane struggles without dismissing the beauty of their ordinariness.

  6. says:

    Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa LahiriInterpreter 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 The stories are about the lives of Indians and Indian Americans who are caught between their roots and the New World 1380 124 964363003 1384 197 1388 9789643630034 1393 sni 20 1380 266 9649333393 1381 1385 1388 224 9789649333335 1389 1391 1393 1380 202 9646807100 1382 307 9649125140 1383 302 9644053648 1383 214 9647356110 1392 254 9786006687773 2000 .

  7. says:

    In this stirring collection of short stories, Jhumpa Lahiri displays the diasporic struggle of men, assailed by nightmares of home, over the dilemma of assimilating into the new world or holding on to the past culture The author exhibits her majestic power of story telling with such grace and allure that the most wonderful thing happened to me today I seemed to have lost the sense of time while reading this splendid depiction of the plight of the homeless This doesn t happen often I was put into a trance by Lahiri s portrayal of the bereaved couple lamenting the death of their unborn child and confiding their frightful secrets in the dark during an electrical outrage When Mr Pirzada came to dine, I as well prayed for the conflicts to come to an end and for the rightful birth of my country When Miranda wronged a stranger, the vermillion, promising marital bliss threatened me too Along with the girl once gripped by a mysterious ailment, I was cured Like the interpreter of maladies, I have dreamt of settling disputes of which I alone can understand After all, home has beckoned us all.My thoughts have been vigorously rejigged Lahiri s steadfast curiosity about human valor and her beautiful drawing of human spirit have left me stunned.

  8. says:

    I really enjoyed this collection pf short stories that won the Pulitzer in 2000 Lahiri s limpid text evokes the sadness and nostalgia of being an ex par something I can definitely identify with She has a wonderful word palette allowing her to create these small snapshots of life as a Bengali My favorite was the title story about a part time taxi driver taking an American family around to see temples near Calcutta The driver interprets for country people at a medical clinic as he studied languages that are no longer widely spoken The way in which the author invokes the cultural distance between the driver and the tourists and his infatuation with the mother wife of the family is beautiful without being sappy and sincere enough that the woman actually confesses an infidelity to him The saddest story I felt was that of Mrs Sen who takes brief care of little Elliot for a short time in which he learns about frailty and loneliness mirrored between that of his mother and that of Mrs Sen The last story is the most positive and demonstrates how love can evolve from arranged marriages sometimes due to the most unlikely circumstances.This is a beautiful book and completes my reading of all Pulitzer winners between 2000 and 2016 and makes me want to read her longer fiction such as The Namesake.

  9. says:

    There are certain things in life that bewilder and baffle us with their staggering normality Things so simple yet unmistakably captivating, common place yet elegant, subtle yet profound Jumpa Lahiri s Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories is one of those things She writes with a grace and an elegance that transforms her simple stories into a delicate myriad of words and feelings Each story transforming you into a singularity bound to its harmonious beauty The different stories somehow seem to be explicitly woven together to make a sari of the most beautiful kind I felt this cumulative effect of an interconnection between all these produced feelings This delicious melancholy that only the deepest parts of our soul can feel She watched his lips forming the words, at the same time she heard them under her skin, under her winter coat, so near and full of warmth that she felt herself go hot It was only then, raising my water glass in his name, that I knew what it meant to miss someone who was so many miles and hours away, just as he had missed his wife and daughters for so many months Her stories transcend the cultural ethnic aspect of things, any person can relate to all these experiences For me, Interpreter of Maladies is a humanistic book that highlights the common experiences of all people, not just the Indians, while at the same time show casing a rich culture that some people are not familiar with She made me feel attached and connected to these characters that had few similarities with me She made me feel the bond with these people, their experiences, their sadness, their joys, their pain She made me understand She made me long for home She made me feel human Eventually I took a square of white chocolate out of the box, and unwrapped it, and then I did something I had never done before I put the chocolate in my mouth, letting it soften until the last possible moment, and then as I chewed it slowly, I prayed that Mr Pirzada s family was safe and sound I had never prayed for anything before, had never been taught or told to, but I decided, given the circumstances, that it was something I should do That night when I went to the bathroom I only pretended to brush my teeth, for I feared that I would somehow rinse the prayer out as well I wet the brush and rearranged the tube of paste to prevent my parents from asking any questions, and fell asleep with sugar on my tongue This book shines a light into the dark recesses of our lives Into those places where we keep our darkest secrets, those places that even we may not be aware of It shines a light, not a glaring white light from a bulb or a fluorescent, but rather a small light A light from a candle that illuminates only the most necessary of things Those things we often neglect when the bright light showcases everything around us The weak candle light casts a melancholy feeling only to these important things But really, maybe that melancholy light is all we need to notice things that really matter In the dimness, he knew how she sat, a bit forward in her chair, ankles crossed against the lowest rung, left elbow on the table They each took a candle and sat down on the steps Something happened when the house was dark They were able to talk to each other again Once it was dark and he began kissing her awkwardly on her forehead and her face, and though it was dark he closed his eyes, and he knew that she did too As he watched the couple, the room went dark and he spun around Shoba turned the lights off She came back to the table and sat down, and after a moment Shukumar joined her They wept together, for the things they now knew As I end, let me borrow from the book s goodreads summary I do believe that this paragraph captures that very essence of Ms Lahiri s beautiful craftsmanship 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 In that single line Jhumpa Lahiri sums up a universal experience, one that applies to all who have grown up, left home, fallen in or out of love, and, above all, experienced what it means to be a foreigner, even within one s own family As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.

  10. says:

    It is interesting to reflect on the fact that humans are so mismatched to the lives and people they choose for themselves A collection of short stories, navigating the intricate web of cultural clashes in India, UK and USA, moving back and forth in history, from the trauma of the Partition to the moon landing and beyond that, circling around families for twenty pages just to let go of them when the reader thinks the narrative starts to create a pattern of sense, this is a wonderful reading experience And bizarrely, the loosely connected short stories seem to match well in their description of misfits.Why do we live with people we don t feel belong to us, with people who try to suppress what we value as treasures rather than celebrating with us Why is a close relationship so often similar to an act of slow suffocation Can we blame it on the custom of arranged marriages, which appear in some of the stories Hardly, for the marriages that were founded on physical attraction generate the same issues Can we blame it on the institution of marriage itself Hardly, for the role of mistress is just as difficult to bear Can we make it a gender issue Hardly, for husbands are not exempt from the suffocation, even though they may have slightly freedom of movement Can we blame it on a specific culture Hardly, for humans are humans whether they live in deepest poverty in Calcutta or in brilliant luxury in a university town in New England.Funnily, the character who seemed to develop the most strength and inner happiness in the end was the sick young woman in India who was rejected by everyone, even her family, and who found herself pregnant and forced to raise a child on her own in disgrace.She was cured.Cured of her seizures, cured of the pressure to adapt to the expectations of others Cured of trying to be matched, she formed her own pattern.Brilliant stories, wonderfully human

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