The Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories by my new favorite author, Jhumpa Lahiri. There are nine stories in this collection.
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.
Some of the stories are set in India and others in the US. Ms. Lahiri’s characters are flawed humans who constantly strive to make sense of their lives and their situations. Her storytelling however is pristine. I’m trying really hard to not enter “omgawsh, this book is so amazing, I love it. Everyone has to read it” territory but it is that great, guys. I cannot believe it took me this long to read a book by her. I keep mentally swatting myself, but it is all fixed now. I am acquainted and I’m going to read all of her books.
Her books mostly tell the stories of Indian immigrants and they show that life and experiences are in no way restricted to any particular culture because I was able to relate to many of their struggles and the ones I couldn’t relate to, I felt deeply nonetheless. My favorite story is the last one: “The Third and Final Continent” which is apparently inspired by her father’s experiences. There’s also an almost soft wit to her writing. She guides you into her stories and everything is written in refreshingly plain language. The stories speak for themselves always. I also thoroughly enjoyed “Mrs Sen’s” and “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar” made me chuckle a lot. “Sexy” is another great story. They’re all great. LOL.
When I was your age I was without knowing that one day I would be so far. You are wiser than that, Eliot. You already taste the way things must be.
Not me. If my husband so much as looked at another woman I’d change the locks.
You say that now, but you will see, when you are a man your life will be in places you cannot know now.
She was like that, excited and delighted by little things, crossing her fingers before any remotely unpredictable event, like tasting a new flavor of ice cream, or dropping a letter in a mailbox.
I was told that she could cook, knit, embroider, sketch landscapes, and recite poems by Tagore, but these talents could not make up for the fact that she did not possess a fair complexion, and so a string of men had rejected her to her face.
She was twenty-seven, an age when her parents had begun to fear that she would never marry, and so they were willing to ship their only child halfway across the world in order to save her from spinsterhood.
Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, then there is no obstacle he cannot conquer.
I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am 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.
The last quote is the last sentence in the book. I. LOVE. IT. I hope you all read this book. It is so eye-opening. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Special thanks to Pemi for nudging me toward taking a second look at Jhumpa Lahiri. Forever appreciated.
Need I tell you that this is a 5 star book?
Till soon, Afoma x