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Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Jhumpa Lahiri (Author)

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12,132268529 (4.09)1 / 367
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.

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» See also 367 mentions

English (256)  Catalan (4)  Spanish (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (266)
Showing 1-5 of 256 (next | show all)
A beautifully written collection of short stories about the experience of immigrant Bengalis to America. The book fully deserves the multiple prizes it won: the Pulitzer Prize 2000, Pen/Hemingway Award (2000), New Yorker’s Debut Book of the Year (2000) and the Puddly Award for Short Stories (2001).

The author is of Bengali heritage, was born in England and brought up in America. There are about 250 million Bengalis in the subcontinent, about 2/3 making up the Muslim nation of Bangladesh and about 1/3, mostly Hindus, in West Bengal, a state in India with Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) its major city. The stories mention the Partition of India when Pakistan was separated off from India by the departing British to create a Muslim homeland. Later when West Pakistan began to insist on Urdu as its official language and to oppress the Bengali people and their language, East Pakistan broke off and became the independent country of Bangladesh.

The stories are a poignant collection of loss, longing, and trying to come to terms with the unfamiliar.

A Temporary Matter: A married couple, Shukumar and Shoba, have drifted apart and begun to live separate lives until a four night power outage brings them together again.

When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine: Mr. Pirzada is a botany professor from Dhaka studying in America who is befriended by an Indian family and their young daughter. Together they watch the news every night about the Bangladesh Independence War and worry about the wife and seven daughters he has left behind.

Interpreter of Maladies: An American born couple of Indian heritage visit India with their family and hire Mr. Kapasi, a tour guide and Gujurati interpreter for the day. Their self absorbed ways and offhanded parenting style shock him somewhat and illustrates the differences between the two countries.

A Real Durwan: Boori Ma is a 64-year-old woman from Calcutta who is the stairsweeper, of an old brick building, who the residents allow to sleep in front of the gates leading into the tenement.

Sexy: Miranda meets regularly with her Indian colleague, and hears her outrage about her cousin’s husband leaving her for a white woman. She is afraid to admit that she herself is having an affair with a married Indian man named Dev. After a while the affair loses some of its sparkle.

Mrs. Sen's: 11-year-old Eliot begins being babysat after school by Mrs. Sen, a lonely Indian university professor's wife. As she chops and prepares food she tells Eliot stories of her past life in Calcutta and shares her homesickness.

This Blessed House: Sanjeev and Twinkle have moved into a new house in Connecticut. They keep finding religious icons hidden throughout the house. Sanjeev seems to find Twinkle and her simple delight in life irritating although everyone else finds her charming.

The Treatment of Bibi Haldar: 29-year-old Bibi Haldar has an incurable mysterious ailment and so remains shunned by society. Her greatest longing is to be married with children.

The Third and Final Continent: The narrator lives in India, then moves to London, then finally to America. While awaiting the arrival of his new wife from India, his first home in America is boarding with a cantankerous 103 year old woman who unknowingly changes their lives and perceptions of each other.

This is an insightful book that I would highly recommend. ( )
  mimbza | Apr 23, 2024 |
An incredible debut collection; each story is so tightly constructed and carefully written. The language is in some ways spare but has beautiful rhythms (prosody? is that the word I mean here? perhaps). Luminous. ( )
  localgayangel | Mar 5, 2024 |
My reading of Interpreter of Maladies was interrupted by the need to read several other books that demanded immediate attention. But I found that I kept longing to get back to the delights of Jhumpa Lahiri. I'm a fan because she writes with such deft precision.
The blouse was decorated at chest-level with a calico applique in the shape of a strawberry. She was a short woman, with small hands like paws, her frosty pink finger-nails painted to match her lips, and was slightly plump in her figure. p. 46
I marvel at how she can draw character so effortlessly.

This collection of stories are all entire unto themselves but, as in [b:Whereabouts|56221722|Whereabouts|Jhumpa Lahiri|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1607444569l/56221722._SY75_.jpg|64910967] in fact, all Lahiri's books that I've read, fragments seem to fit together into a larger whole where the frailty of humanity is not exploited but celebrated. I wept at the end of the last story which seemed to draw a thread that brought all the stories together. So quietly delicate in its intensity.
( )
  simonpockley | Feb 25, 2024 |
The author writes these stories so that I feel wonderfully present in each of them, in each of her characters. It's a quiet collection of every day people living ordinary lives, but the best of them pulled at my heart and emotions, with love and resentment and longing and disappointment. I will be looking for more of her work to read.

Paperback, picked up at a Friends of the Library sale, still with its library stickers and bar codes, pages comfortably bent and wrinkled and stained. I love the signs that many before me have had the opportunity to enjoy it. ( )
  Doodlebug34 | Jan 1, 2024 |
Very enjoyable compilation of stories about Indian culture and its people told from different perspectives and backgrounds. ( )
  thanesh | Oct 16, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 256 (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 (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lahiri, Jhumpaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooley, StevenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahlström, EvaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emeis, MarijkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Overholtzer, RobertDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sjöstrand, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Starnone, DomenicoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my parents and for my sister
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. Perhaps 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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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.

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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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