Thursday, 10 September 2015

Interpreter of Maladies

Three days back I read in a newspaper that on September 10, 2015, President Obama will award the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to some distinguished recipients. This got my attention because Jhumpa Lahiri was in the list. I remember her from my GK (General Knowledge) class in school. Many times I thought of reading her work but never did until this August when I bought her first book, Interpreter of Maladies from .

Summary :

Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant stories tell the lives of Indians in exile, of people navigating between the strict traditions they've inherited and the baffling New World they must encounter every day. An interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing revelation, a young Midwestern woman is drawn into a tantalizing affair with a married Bengali man, the eccentric nervous Mrs Sen needs to learn to drive if she is to keep her job minding eleven year old Eliot after school, a young couple exchange confessions each night as they struggle to cope with the loss of their baby and their baby and their failing marriage, and Mr. Pirzada, whose watch is always set to Decca time, worries about his family back in Pakistan.

Whether set in Boston or Bengal, sublimely understated stories, spiced with humour and subtle detail, speak with universal eloquence to anyone who has ever felt the yearnings of exile or the emotional confusion of the outsider.

My Review

I feel a good book is one that connects well with the reader and explains what the author wants to convey. Interpreter of Maladies is one such book. It is a collection of nine short stories beautifully knitted with emotions. I really liked Jhumpa Lahiri's style of writing which is simple and elegant. She is a superb story teller. Every story left me with an urge to know more about the characters and what happened next in their lives. I realized how difficult it can be to adjust in another country. I guess this happens more with Indians because we are always around our family, relatives and friends on every special occasion that we find it painful to deal with loneliness. Also it throws a light on how a series of events can drastically change relationships forever.
  • A Temporary Matter : This story is about a married couple, Shukumar and Shoba who had a stillborn baby and how this changed their lives.
  • When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine : This is a story of a Bangladeshi man, Mr. Pirzada who was awarded grant from the government to study foliage of New England in America and how Lilia got attached to him during his visits to her house. 
  • Interpreter of Maladies : It is about Mr. Kapasi, a middle-aged tour guide and an interpreter in a doctor’s office who takes family of Mr. Das for sight seeing.
  • A Real Durwan : It is a story of a stair-sweeper or durwan of an old brick building, Boori Ma who used to narrate stories of her royal past but one afternoon a sink was stolen from the building. Everyone thought she informed the robbers and no one believed her.
  • Sexy : This is a story of relationship between Miranda, a young white woman and Dev, a married Indian man. A seven year old kid explained the meaning of sexy which changes Miranda's mind.
  • Mrs. Sen's : This story about Mrs. Sen, wife of a mathematics professor who babysits Eliot and cooks food but doesn't know how to drive is painful. This is one of my favorite because one can feel how terrible it feels when there is no one for you.
  • This Blessed House : It is about a newly married couple, Twinkle and Sanjeev who moves into a house previously owned by Christians. This is the only story I din't like much.
  • The Treatment of Bibi Haldar : Bibi Haldar has an unknown disease that no one is able to cure. The story reflects the hopes of a girl who wants to get married. A mishappening changes her life and she gets a reason to live.
  • The Third and Final Continent : This is my favorite. It is about the struggles of a man who moves from India to London to America. The story explains his relationship with Mrs. Croft and how he gets married to an Indian women he hardly knew. It has an happy ending.

About The Author
Jhumpa Lahiri (born on July 11, 1967) is an Indian American author. Lahiri's debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name. She was born Nilanjana Sudeshna but goes by her nickname (or in Bengali, her "Daak naam") Jhumpa. Lahiri is a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama. Her book The Lowland, published in 2013, was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. Lahiri is currently a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.

Connect with the author :


  1. This is one favourite books. I simply love Jhumpa Lahiri's writing style.

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