Monday, February 8, 2010

BOOK: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, 197 pages

Book Awards IV: Pen/Hemingway 1999 & Pulitzer 2000

Lovely collection of short stories, mostly about immigrant Indians, and fitting in. I'm a fan of short stories, and I liked these, but I wouldn't have finished this collection thinking it was a Pulitzer winner. That is because I need a bit more over all story or plot to a book to make me say wow, like a Stephen King collection, or there can be character development, like in Olive Kitteridge, but I'd like to be more attached to the characters.

Having said that, Lahiri manages to write wonderful short stories, with characters that are fully fleshed out in very short amounts of time. I've wondered about the title, and it is named for the character who is multilingual, and translates for a doctor when patients from small areas of India come to his office. That story was an interesting take on what makes something romantic, and it usually is just what you don't have. The unusual is enticing to what might be missing in your own life.

A solid 4 out of 5 stars from me for Lahiri's celebrated collection. I tried to pick up the book and read one story a day, so each could be enjoyed on its own.

other reviews by:
musing of a bookish kitty (one story reviewed)
joann at lakeside musings
laura at musings
trish at heylady!whatcha reading


  1. You might want to give her newest collection, Unaccustomed Earth, a try. I thought it was even better than Interpreter of Maladies. She's a beautiful writer.

  2. I need to try this! Except I can't read too many short stories by the same person at once - I'd have to spread them over several weeks.

  3. I'm not sure that I read every story in this collection, but "A Temporary Matter" and "Sexy" are two of my favorites from it.

  4. amy - I do hope to read more of her stories. I'll read Unaccustomed Earth at some point. I enjoyed the stories and her writing.

    jenny - that's what I did, spread them out, but then at the end I read the last couple at once, since I was so close to finishing. (It's a compulsion - must. finish. book.)

    charley - Those two were sad, but then most of the stories had a tragic quality. I liked Interpreter of Maladies and The Third and Final Continent best.

  5. I've not read her, and want to after seeing a movie called The Namesake based on her book. Have you watched it? Oh, it is fantastic. Wonderful. Excellent. (I've just emailed you a link to a recent essay she wrote in the New Yorker).

  6. nan - no, I haven't seen the movie, but I might have seen it listed at our local arthouse cinema. I read a short story Lahiri offered on last year, she writes great short stories. Thanks for the link, it was a nice essay about her father. I think you'll like her collections.

  7. I have several by this author, but haven't actually placed one on my nightstand. I've picked them up almost every time I'm looking for a new short story collection, though. It's good to see that you enjoyed this one. It's encouraging.

  8. So glad to hear you enjoyed Interpreter of Maladies. I'll echo Amy's suggestion of Unaccustomed Earth - it's even better!


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