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Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies (1999)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (185)  Catalan (4)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All (1)  All (194)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
The Interpreter of Maladies is not only a collection of nine short stories, but I think, a name well suited to the author, Jhumpa Lahiri. Her writing is direct and easy, yet expertly and artistically controlled. She gives you just enough detail in the right places so that her subtle hints help bridge the landscape of her characters and their stories. Yes, her stories entail the immigrant experience, but they also tell a universal story; the story of ordinary living that compels you to appreciate and consider the implications they have.

There is the story of the couple who has grown apart only to reveal the vulnerable parts of themselves to each other in the dark.

There is the story of the bond between a father figure and a girl only to be separated by borders and the reunion of the man with his missing wife and seven children.

There is the story of desire for an American tourist only to discover she is compelled to confess her own indiscretion to her tour guide.

There is the stigma and scapegoat of a street woman for the woes of an old apartment building.

There is the love and tolerance of an American mistress toward her Bengali lover only to understand the inevitability of the relationship’s failure.

There is the bond and love between an Indian babysitter and a neglected American boy.

And the culmination of a secretly unhappy marriage due to a flamboyant wife compelled to ignore her husband’s wishes by collecting Christian artifacts.

And the story of the isolation and desolation of a woman neglected and misunderstood because of her episodes of epilepsy.

Lahiri is a master storyteller who doesn’t hide behind obtuse language to prove she is a good writer. She tells you just enough so that you can understand her characters’ positions and experiences as if they are your own. And she makes the plots interesting enough, that once you come away from the stories, you linger, wishing there were more.

She is a wonderful ambassador of India and America and what it means to be on the peripheral. I am glad to say that Jhumpa Lahiri is my new heroine as a masterful writer, an intelligent artist, and a person with the heart of a poet. ( )
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
This author has the gift of being able to make a reader feel engaged in a story and characters with few words. None of these stories are overly long, and none describe large events or have overly complicated plots, but most of them stayed with me for days after I finished them. Even if I couldn't relate directly to the character or setting of a piece, I felt like each story still managed to resonate with something within me. Well worth reading. ( )
  duchessjlh | May 29, 2017 |
Interpreter of Maladies is a hauntingly beautiful collection of short stories. Jhumpa Lahiri manages to put you in the middle of the situation presented in the story. These stories were snapshots into the lives of ordinary people, most of them of Indian descent. All in all, I loved reading this book and am glad it was presented by Librarything for the One Librarything, One Book group.
  jeshakespeare | Mar 10, 2017 |
Meh. Well written but with nothing to say. A compilation of nine short stories, all along the same theme - which is anachronistic snapshots of lives of Indian/Bangladeshi immigrants from 50ish years ago. There's no date given, but I can't see any of the western lives being lived any later than the 70s. There's a mix of immigration from Bangladesh to India, and from and to India and the US. AT no point doe sit seem relevant. Neither does anything happen at any point, to anyone.

Careful character portraits are fine and it is quite a skilled writing set to capture them. But if you don't use them, and they aren't of real people, then why bother. There's a good mix of young and old, male and female, all suffering (and generally not getting to grips with) living in a different place to that which you've accustomed to. But really it's not that hard, it's just different, and unsurprisingly if you don't change to adapt to the culture you've moved to, you'll find life difficult. People don't do it that way at home is not sufficiently fascinating to write stories about - relate real life episodes and moan with friends for sure - but that's not what this is.

The best was probably the 2nd story - where a young girl's family hosts a Bangladeshi professor for a few weeks, and she's somewhat confused, and the last - where a young Indian man discovers that american women are older than they look. The title story is particularly poor, based around a mis-interpretation of what a Indian cab driver's other job is. It's very contrived and not at all obvious that this is a mis-understanding anyone could make. They are really all quite similar and blur a bit in to one another.

The writing remains elegant and sparse, descriptively capturing people and surroundings but only a little of their emotions and lives. Really just a shame that nothing came of it. An equivalent to the pretentious boring "literature" of women gossiping in a cafe. ( )
  reading_fox | Mar 8, 2017 |
I was surprised how much I liked this book because I read The Namesake several years ago and really disliked it. But these stories are deft, subtle, and often sweet. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (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 editionscalculated
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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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.
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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Book description
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
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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)

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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)

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