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Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Interpreter of Maladies (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

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8,629185353 (4.09)228
Member:DetailMuse
Title:Interpreter of Maladies
Authors:Jhumpa Lahiri
Info:Mariner Books (1999), Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:Fiction, Short Stories, India, @D

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Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (1999)

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» See also 228 mentions

English (177)  Catalan (3)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (184)
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
Wonderfully written short stories that explore relationships. Spare but exquisitely crafted.

This collection of short stories won the Pullitzer Prize. Lahiri is a great observer of life. While writing with a distinct cultural view, she explores universal themes of grief and connectedness. ( )
1 vote BookConcierge | Feb 12, 2016 |
I don't often read collections of short stories. I probably never would have picked this book up if my 2015 reading challenge hadn't required me to read a Pulitzer Prize winner. I couldn't find my copy of [b:Middlesex|2187|Middlesex|Jeffrey Eugenides|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1437029776s/2187.jpg|1352495], and the only edition I have of [b:The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao|297673|The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao|Junot Díaz|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1391409748s/297673.jpg|3281466] is in Spanish, so I was at a loss. I'm trying to cut down my book-buying habit, so I asked my mom if she owned any Pulitzer Prize winners. She did! This one!

I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, I'd heard good things about Lahiri. An author doesn't get to be a Pulizer Prize winner without some amount of publicity. But I really had no idea what kind of books she wrote or what I was getting myself into. I didn't even know this was a collection of short stories until I started reading it.

The first one, A Temporary Matter, made me sob. That's when I knew that I was in for a good experience. Do you know how many books have made me sob over the years? No more than a handful. The story of a couple grieving their stillborn child while telling each other secrets by candlelight -- easily the best of the bunch.

My next favorite was probably Sexy, the story of a mistress who, upon babysitting a strangely perceptive young boy, realizes that her lover does not actually love her.

Rounding out my top three would be Interpreter of Maladies: a hired driver tells a rich couple of his "real" job -- a medical interpreter. The wife becomes enamored with the idea that the patients' lives are in this man's hands; after all, if he were to interpret their symptoms incorrectly, they would not get the correct treatments. Over the course of the trip, the driver falls for the wife and his perfect idea of her, only to find that she's as imperfect and human as anybody else.

This is not the kind of book that you power through. I read one or two stories at a time, often taking a break of several hours in between. The stories stick with you. They weigh on you. They're not happy stories; in fact, most of them have rather sad, disappointing endings. But these are not the kind of stories that would work with happy endings. For the most part, they're brief windows into the lives of unhappy people.

My takeaway from this book? A reminder to be kind. You never know what's going on behind the scenes in someone else's life. ( )
  Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
These stories are jewels of maudlin storytelling that transform the everyday lives of people in India (and immigrants to England and the USA) into something resembling myths. Many of them deal with marital friction and/or lost love. Lahiri has a lot of insight and a lot of her characters are embittered/cynical. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I very rarely read short stories. This one I read on a recommendation. Wonderful wonderful read. Jhumpa Lahiri is an unbelievably good writer. Highly recommend this book. (On loan from Cindy.) ( )
  cjservis | Jan 17, 2016 |
A wonderful collection of short stories. I normally avoid short stories and I'm glad I didn't avoid this book. I can see why it won awards.

( )
  i.should.b.reading | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
In this accomplished collection of stories, Jhumpa Lahiri traces the lives of people on two continents -- North America and India -- and in doing so announces herself as a wonderfully distinctive new voice. Indeed, Ms. Lahiri's prose is so eloquent and assured that the reader easily forgets that ''Interpreter of Maladies'' is a young writer's first book.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jhumpa Lahiriprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooley, StevenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahlström, EvaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emeis, MarijkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Overholtzer, RobertDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sjöstrand, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For my parents and for my sister
First words
The notice informed them that it was a temporary matter: for five days their electricity would be cut off for one hour, beginning at eight P.M.
Quotations
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 I am certainly 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.
As stunned as I was, I knew what I had to say. With no hesitation at all, I cried out, "Splendid!"
In fact, the only thing that appeared three-dimensional about Boori Ma was her voice: brittle with sorrows, as tart as curds, and shrill enough to grate meat from a coconut.
He wondered if Mr. and Mrs. Das were a bad match, just as he and his wife were. Perhapts they, too, had little in common apart from three children and a decade of their lives. The signs he recognized from his own marriage were there--the bickering, the indifference, the protracted silences.
In its own way this correspondence would fulfill his dream, of serving as an interpreter between nations.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
CONTENTS:
A Temporary Matter -- When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine -- Interpreter of Maladies -- A Real Durwan -- Sexy -- This Blessed House -- The Treatment of Bibi Haldar -- The Third and Final Continent
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 039592720X, Paperback)

Mr. Kapasi, the protagonist of Jhumpa Lahiri's title story, would certainly have his work cut out for him if he were forced to interpret the maladies of all the characters in this eloquent debut collection. Take, for example, Shoba and Shukumar, the young couple in "A Temporary Matter" whose marriage is crumbling in the wake of a stillborn child. Or Miranda in "Sexy," who is involved in a hopeless affair with a married man. But Mr. Kapasi has problems enough of his own; in addition to his regular job working as an interpreter for a doctor who does not speak his patients' language, he also drives tourists to local sites of interest. His fare on this particular day is Mr. and Mrs. Das--first-generation Americans of Indian descent--and their children. During the course of the afternoon, Mr. Kapasi becomes enamored of Mrs. Das and then becomes her unwilling confidant when she reads too much into his profession. "I told you because of your talents," she informs him after divulging a startling secret.
I'm tired of feeling so terrible all the time. Eight years, Mr. Kapasi, I've been in pain eight years. I was hoping you could help me feel better; say the right thing. Suggest some kind of remedy.
Of course, Mr. Kapasi has no cure for what ails Mrs. Das--or himself. Lahiri's subtle, bittersweet ending is characteristic of the collection as a whole. Some of these nine tales are set in India, others in the United States, and most concern characters of Indian heritage. Yet the situations Lahiri's people face, from unhappy marriages to civil war, transcend ethnicity. As the narrator of the last story, "The Third and Final Continent," comments: "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." In that single line Jhumpa Lahiri sums up a universal experience, one that applies to all who have grown up, left home, fallen in or out of love, and, above all, experienced what it means to be a foreigner, even within one's own family. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:53 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Stories about Indians in India and America. The story, A Temporary Matter, is on mixed marriage, Mrs. Sen's is on the adaptation of an immigrant to the U.S., and in the title story an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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