Saturday, December 6, 2008
Interpreter Of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Interpreter Of Maladies won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. The collection of nine stories, by Jhumpa Lahiri, explores Indian culture and the interaction of Indian individuals with Western (British and American) culture.
In addition to exploring the Indian immigrant experience, the stories in this collection explore love and lonliness and the ways that people interact with those around them. Some stories focus on couples and their love affairs, others with relationships such as a sweeper and the building tenets, or an Indian women who babysits an American child. The stories give many details of the Indian culture such as mode of dress or adornment, social relationships, attitudes towards working, and religion outlooks.
My personal favorite was the story "This Blessed House". It explores the relationship between Sanjeev, an Indian who has finished his education and is moving up in his company, and his new wife, Twinkle. Although these are modern individuals, their romance was still an arranged one and the story demonstrates how they adjust to each other and to marriage. While many of the details of Indian culture are used, I liked this story because it is universal. Everyone in a marriage goes through this time of discovery and adjustment.
A quick read, this book is highly recommended for the reader who wants to learn about India and the Indian immigrant experience. It is hard to imagine that at least one of these stories wouldn't touch any reader, regardless of their background.