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Interpreter of Maladies: First impressions

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1lorannen
Feb 27, 11:54am Top

Thoughts on Interpreter of Maladies as you're starting to read? Read it before? Post them here!

Please hide spoiler-y posts using a "spoiler" HTML tag!

2_Zoe_
Feb 28, 9:46am Top

I haven't picked up the book yet, but what's the point of grouping the stories into sets of three rather than just having a thread for each story? Are the stories closely related?

3lorannen
Edited: Feb 28, 11:59am Top

>2 _Zoe_: We will have a thread for each story. The groupings are for dividing up your reading time evenly into easy sections—that's it!

4morieel
Feb 28, 10:55pm Top

I read it some time ago- can chime in when others post their comments (my memory will charge when given a prompt), what I remember was being enchanted by these gems of a story. I was struck by the fact that while there is conflict between cultures, as a Western, I found the reactions, behaviors and emotions of the Eastern characters were no different from my own.

5lorannen
Mar 1, 12:06pm Top

For my part, I started reading just last night, and am already hooked. Somehow, this is my first foray into Lahiri's work. She's been on my radar for a while now—I just haven't gotten around to reading my copy of The Lowland yet!

For such a short book, it's incredibly rich writing. I'm only a few pages in, but am really looking forward to this.

6wooleyj
Mar 1, 1:24pm Top

It's fascinating to me that short story collections commonly win Pulitzers. Personally, I've always thought short stories are a great way to get to 'know' an author, and I'm looking forward to learn about Lahiri.

7mookie86
Mar 1, 2:02pm Top

I'm on the second story right now and enjoying Lahiri's writing immensely. Having a view into Eastern culture in different scenarios is enlightening and educational at the same time. Great choice for OLOB.

8nrhancock
Mar 2, 6:57pm Top

Wow! The feelings expressed in the first story are so raw as to be tangible. Honesty, as if afraid to face the light, is kept tightly locked away until finally, with the help of darkness, it is allowed to escape, purging in it's wake.
I love the flow of Lahiri's words. It makes for a very delightful read.

9mstrust
Mar 3, 11:48am Top

I started reading yesterday and I'm almost done with the second story, "When Mr. Pirzada Came To Dine". The first story was haunting.

10jennybhatt
Mar 4, 7:47am Top

I read this one ages ago and remember thinking how some of her writing reminded me of Alice Munro's in some places -- the style, that is. Then, I heard Lahiri mention how Munro and William Trevor have both been strong influences on her in the short story genre. I read some Trevor and I can see that too.

Not to say Lahiri doesn't have her own narrative style. But, all writers have their influences.

Anyway, I'm going to pick up the book again to follow along with the discussion. Last year, I read The Lowland and there were parts of it I had a bit of a problem with (plotwise only).

11Rascalstar
Mar 4, 5:43pm Top

I've read the first 3 stories and am enjoying the writing. The third story by the same title as the book is a great illustration of how people aren't always who we think they are. Since I've had recent experience with that, with "friends" living with us at a most unfortunate time right after surgery, the story brought that thought home again. We provided this couple with a home for nearly 2 months, thought we knew them well enough, learned we didn't, and are no longer friends.

12reading_fox
Mar 6, 10:20am Top

Also 3 stories in, kind of ok so far but not that impressed, about average really. Nice juxtaposition of cultures for those who've never encountered them, the 2nd story highlighting the differences between Bangladesh India and Pakistan was much better than the other two. I do much prefer short stories to have some kind of punch in them, a bit of kick at the end to jolt you out of complacency and remember that individual tale. I could easily read all of these, and they'd just blur into one. The lack of timeframe for reference makes it even harder to assimilate.

13mstrust
Mar 6, 10:31am Top

I've read the first four stories and found them all interesting. I'm not expecting any happy endings at this point, but I'm enjoying the writing.

14SharonCantirino
Mar 6, 5:12pm Top

Also found the first story very powerful and plan to read it again. Second story had a hard act to follow- but it opened me up to history and events I was not really aware of. #3 tonight.

15reading_fox
Mar 7, 10:27am Top

Even less impressed. Nothing happens in these stories. They're made up snap-shots of bits of invented lives without any of the complexity of real life, or the imagination of anything more outré, set in some already semi-mythical past when everything was better. If I was interested in lack of cultural assimilation I'd read biographies of real people. Yes they're well enough written, although without temporal or spatial clues, a little confusing, but if nothing happens what's the point in looking pretty.

16Divasin
Mar 7, 10:49am Top

I agree about the influences of both Alice Munro and William Trevor.
I find in all three have an ability to express so much with so few words.
If you enjoy Jhumpa Lahiri and are interested in the Indian point of view,
I highly recommend Rohinton Mistry.

17mstrust
Mar 7, 1:03pm Top

I'm on "This Blessed House", the seventh of the stories. So far, my favorite has been "Mrs. Sen's". All the stories so far have a sense of melancholy, of the characters needing something they can't have.

18lorannen
Mar 8, 12:02pm Top

Discussion threads for the first three stories are up! Feel free to chime in:

A Temporary Matter
When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine
Interpreter of Maladies

If you have broader themes you'd like to discuss across multiple stories, feel free to post a new topic!

19Diane-bpcb
Edited: Mar 12, 3:50pm Top

*Spoiler alert*--this just inserted now, the day after posting the following. (Sorry.)

> 17 Have still only finished the first three stories, but it seems, regarding your comment about the stories being melancholy, that the particular kind of melancholy in these first three has to do with people always making assumptions about what the people around them are thinking that are wrong. Which creates an (inevitable?) gap in intimate relationships. 1) The husband who suddenly discovers that his wife has been making plans to move without mentioning it, 2) the girl whose youthful inexperience blocks a realistic view of the larger world, even as Mr. Pirada tries to explain it to her, and then 3) the funny--and too true!--imaginings of the Interpreter/guide who silently experiences a non-existant but "deep" understanding/romance between himself and the wife among his current tourists--while she is nothing if not totally self-absorbed.

20mstrust
Edited: Mar 12, 11:42am Top

Yes, I too found that several of the characters realized they didn't really know the person they were with. I mention this in the "Finished" thread, as I didn't want to inadvertently provide spoilers in the "First Impressions" thread.
So here's a *spoiler* for the third story: : D
At first I thought the story of the interpreter would be funny, but for me anyway, it turned into one of a lonely man's intense longing for affection that leads him to fantasize a relationship out of nothing but the interested questioning and conversation from a married woman who he already knows is horrible. The fact that she showed interest in his life, that she displayed some respect for his job when no one else did, was something he grabbed and showed him to be a desperate man.

21Diane-bpcb
Edited: Mar 13, 1:52am Top

Sorry about my confusing the threads. Have added "spoiler" alert to my entry.

22lorannen
Edited: Mar 15, 11:49am Top

>21 Diane-bpcb: That's all right! Thanks for including that. You might also find our "Spoiler Alert" feature helpful. You can hide spoiler-y text behind a "click to show" link, by doing the following.

At the beginning of the text you'd like to hide type the following, without spaces:
< spoiler >

At the end of the text you'd like to hide, type this, again, without spaces:
< / spoiler >

This will hide your spoiler like this!

23lorannen
Mar 15, 12:03pm Top

New topics for stories 4-6 today! Here they are:

A Real Durwan
Sexy
Mrs. Sen's

I've also opened up a few more general discussion topics, which you can find on the main OLOB group page. I hope everyone has had a great week of reading!

24mstrust
Mar 15, 12:04pm Top

>21 Diane-bpcb: No problem!

25lorannen
Mar 15, 1:42pm Top

I found a handy Glossary of Terms for Interpreter of Maladies put together by the Chicago Public Library. It helped me out when I couldn't remember/didn't know certain terms: https://www.chipublib.org/glossary-of-terms-from-interpreter-of-maladies/

26jennybhatt
Mar 20, 12:12am Top

A Lahiri quote I thought would interest some folks here: "When I first started writing, I was not conscious that my subject was the Indian-American experience. What drew me to my craft was the desire to force the two worlds I occupied to mingle on the page as I was not brave enough, or mature enough, to allow in life."

27lorannen
Mar 22, 12:02pm Top

New topics for stories 7-9 today! You can find them here:

This Blessed House
The Treatment of Bibi Haldar
The Third and Final Continent

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