[Lahiri] announces herself as a wonderfully distinctive new voice.... [She] chronicles her characters' lives with both objectivity and compassion while charting the emotional temperature of their lives with tactile precision. She is a writer of uncommon elegance and poise...a precocious debut.
Michiko Kakutani - The New York Times
Her subject is not love's failure...but the opportunity that an artful spouse (like an artful writer) can make of failure.... She breathes unpredictable life into the page, and the reader finishes each story reseduced, wishing he could spend a whole novel with its characters. There is nothing accidental about her success; her plots are as elegantly constructed as a fine proof in mathematics.
Caleb Crain - The New York Times Book Review
Dazzling writing, an easy-to-carry paperback format and a budget-respecting price tag of $12: Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies possesses these three qualities, making it my book of choice this summer every time someone asks for a recommendation.... Simply put, Lahiri displays a remarkable maturity and ability to imagine other lives....[E]ach story offers something special. Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies will reward readers.
Lahiri's language is uncluttered; she's sparing with metaphor, and the riches accumulate unobtrusively.
Laura Shapiro - Newsweek
There is not one false note here, not one misstep or hestiation.... [E]ach of these nine stories has the capacity to amaze us.... "In Lahiri's sympathetic tales, the pang of disappointment turns into a sudden hunger to know more.... Lahiri's achievement is something like Twinkle's. She breathes unpredictable life into the page, and the reader finishes each story reseduced, wishing he could spend a whole novel with its characters. There is nothing accidental about her success; her plots are as elegantly constructed as a fine proof in mathematics. To use the word Sanjeev eventually applies to Twinkle, Lahiri is 'wow.'"
India is an inescapable presence in this strong first collection's nine polished and resonant tales, most of which have appeared in The New Yorker and other publications. Lahiri, who was born in London and grew up in Rhode Island, offers stories that stress the complex mechanics of adjustment to new circumstances, relationships, and cultures. Sometimes they're narrated by outside observers like the flatmates of an "excited" (presumably epileptic) young woman "cured" by "relations" with men (in "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"); the preadolescent American schoolboy cared for at "Mrs. Sen's," where the eponymous immigrant is tortured by the pressure of adapting to American ways; or, most compellingly, the Indian-American girl emotionally touched and subtly matured by the kindness her parents show to a Pakistani friend who fears for the safety of his family back home amid civil war ("When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"). Richly detailed portrayals of young marriages dominate tales like that of an Indian emigrant's oddly fulfilling relationship with his landlady, a bellicose centenarian ("The Third and Final Continent"); "This Blessed House," in which the wedge afflicting a young couple is widened when they discover "Christian paraphernalia" left behind by their home's former owners; and "A Temporary Matter," which delicately traces how a pair of academics, continually mourning their stillborn baby, find in "an exchange of confessions" a renewal of their intimacy. Lahiri is equally skilled with more sophisticated plots, as in her title story's seriocomic disclosure of a middle-aged tour guide's self-delusive romance, or in the complexity of "Sexy," about a young American woman who's fascinated not only by her married Bengali lover but by all other things Indian—including the manner in which she is and isn't deflected from her passion by an afternoon with an Indian boy victimized by his own father's infidelity. Moving and authoritative pictures of culture shock and displaced identity.
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