Monday, June 14, 2010

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Reviewed by Connie

Published: 1999, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000

It's about: A collection of short stories that examine marriage and culture, this book jumps back and forth from the United States to India.  Each short story is a short, insightful peek into another marital issue, another cross-cultural issue, another human issue.  It includes many of Lahiri's famous works like "Sexy," "Interpreter of Maladies," and "Mrs. Sen's."

I thought: This book is incredibly pleasant to read.  That sounds strange, when most of the short stories are about failed marriages and relationships, but Lahiri has a talent for prose that brings a warm and fuzzy kind of quality to her writing.  You feel at home in it.  That being said, the issues it addresses are done so skilfully and movingly.  Personally, my favorite story was the first -- "A Temporary Matter," which leads through a marriage from being lost in grief, to the shining hope of reconciliation, and then to a beautifully perfect ending that I won't ruin.  And, since I'm not feeling very loquacious today, that's all I'm going to say about that.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf.

Reading Recommendations: One of the glories of a short story collection is that you can take however long you want to read it.  You can do so one story at a time, or sit down and read the whole book at once, because the stories do have common threads weaving it together in a carefully ordered progression.

Warnings: Aside from one story that tells in vague terms the life of a mistress, there's nothing to be wary of in this book.