Interpreter of Maladies (Lahiri)

Interpreter of Maladies
Jhumpa Lahiri, 1999
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
208 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780395927205

Winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Hemingway Award

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. She is an important and powerful new voice. (From the publisher.)

Maladies both accurately diagnosed and misinterpreted, matters both temporary and life changing, relationships in flux and unshakeable, unexpected blessings and sudden calamities, and the powers of survival—these are among the themes of Jhumpa Lahiri's extraordinary, Pulitzer Prize-winning debut collection of stories. Traveling from India to New England and back again, Lahiri charts the emotional voyages of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations, cultures, religions, and generations. Imbued with the sensual details of both Indian and American cultures, they also speak with universal eloquence and compassion to everyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Like the interpreter of the title story—which was selected for both the O. Henry Award and The Best American Short Stories—Lahiri translates between the ancient traditions of her ancestors and the sometimes baffling prospects of the New World. Including three stories first published in The New Yorker, Interpreter of Maladies introduces, in the words of Frederick Busch, "a writer with a steady, penetrating gaze. Lahiri honors the vastness and variousness of the world." Amy Tan concurs: "Lahiri is one of the finest short story writers I’ve read." (Also from the publisher.)

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