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Friday 20 July 2012

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahari

It has been a while since I read this book, but somehow I was not able to bring myself to write about it.  Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of 9 short stories each distictly different from each other yet they collective serve as a mirror that shows various shades of our society. These stories are about Indian people in India or about Indians who have immigrated to United States. Some stories deal with personal lives of people, a few touches some social and poltical issues while others dwells on how Indian immigrants adjusts to the life in a foreign land.

Very often short stories fail to hold my attention for long, or they don't intrigue as much as I would like them to, but that is not the case with this book. Each and every story kept me absorbed, some made me sad, some made me wonder but each touched me in profound way. The book started with the story - A Temporary Matter, a poignant tale of a failing and disintegrating realtionship. Taking advantage of a temporary electrical outage, the couple shared their most intimate secrets in the shelter of darkness. As their story unfolded you couldn't help but empathize with the characters and shed a tear or two at their predicament.

The next story, 'When Mr Pirzada came to dine' brought to the horrors and aftermaths of war through the perspective of a young girl. The title story of the novel, Interpretar of Maladies dwells upon the power of interpretation. Lahiri has the ability to spin a yarn out of the seemingly most ordinary things. One can't help but marvel at her deep observation. Real Durwan, Sexy, Mrs Sen, Treatment of Bibi Haldar, The Blessed House each have a different story to tell. Each of them is thoughtful and intense in their own way. It was make you sit back and ponder of it. They are mostly sad, yet they have a charisma of their own.

The book ends with a relatively positive story, The Third and The Final Continent, where the protagonist takes the changes in good strides and slowly adapts with the life in America. These short stories are not so much about the plot, but about the characters, their lifes, aspirations and dreams.

I will end this post with a quote that I find very profound, it reflects the author's ability to make ordinary things seem extra ordinary

"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."


  1. A very interesting review, I am not a fan of short stories but I have read 'The Namesake' by this author which I enjoyed very much.
    Here is what I had to say on Bookcrossing. @An easy to read excellent moving and realistic account of the immigrant experience of a Bengali family. I really enjoyed this book and learnt about a culture I am not familiar with at the same time.'

  2. Hi Jyoti ....
    Nice blog follower of your blog
    Plz do visit mine in your spare time !!!

    Today's Recipe
    Lemon Rice


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