August 27, 2014

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

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.
-from Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

 photo InterpreterOfMaladies_zpsb0526510.jpg

I'm not going to lie to you, I picked up this book last year after I learned that Mindy Kaling named her character on The Mindy Project Mindy Lahiri after her favorite author, Jhumpa Lahiri (I am so excited for season 3!!!). Since Mindy Kaling is one of my favorite people ever, I had to read this. Of course, it was no real surprise to me that some of the stories in this Pulitzer Prize winning book I had already read in college. I was happy to reconnect with Lahiri's stories and read them with older, more mature eyes.

Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories focusing on various themes relating to Indians and Indian-Americans. Each story focuses on seemingly ordinary characters but elevates the mundane into a thought provoking anecdote on identity, tradition and the roles that are played in every day life. It's really difficult to narrow down favorite stories among this compilation, but I narrowed mine down to "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" and "Mrs. Sen's"; both center on Indians living in America, experiencing a homesickness for their families and traditions in India. In both stories, American children witness both Mr. Pirzada and Mrs. Sen respectively, and similar to the experience of the reader, these children come to better understand the experience of the displaced immigrant, separated from the people and traditions of their home.

I was so impressed by Jhumpa Lahiri's ability to take every day situations and heighten the reader's awareness, taking the ordinary to the extraordinary. Reading these stories encouraged me to see the stories and messages in everything around me, especially what other people might be going through. In the final story, "The Third and Final Continent", the main character rents a room from a woman who is 103-years old and becomes invested in her life, a life he would have otherwise overlooked if he hadn't rented a room and learned about her. This encourages the reader to look at other people's stories that cross over into their own lives.

After reading the collection of stories in Interpreter of Maladies, I completely understand Mindy Kaling's love for Jhumpa Lahiri. Her poignant prose and ability to tell a story powerfully yet succinctly has made me a big fan of Lahiri's work very quickly myself. I can't wait to pick up The Namesake next!

Bottom Line: A must read for any lover of great literature. Read these stories one at a time in between other books, or all at once within a day or two, like I did! 5/5 Stars.

This post was not sponsored by The Mindy Project, although I wish it was.

No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you leave a comment I will try my best to email you back directly and visit your blog, too! If I can't find a way to get back to you, check back for a reply to your comment. Thanks again and happy reading!!