I rarely ever read short story collections, which is probably why this review is so hard for me to write. I can’t possible summarize and review every story in it. So I will try and do a basic “this is the general jist of it” sort of thing. I absolutely adored Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies and all the stories in it. But I want to review it without telling too much about each story..
Interpreter of Maladies contains nine stories that have one thing in common: love. The kind of love is different though. Lost love, forbidden love, the loss of love, growing to love someone. And each story is powerful yet subtle in its own way. These are quiet stories about relationships, their beginnings, and their ends.
Most of the characters are either from India or have parents from India. In many of the stories, I got a strong sense of homesickness. The characters live for the most part in the United States, far from the country they or their families were born and raised in. The characters were living in a different culture from what they or their parents were raised in. However, thhose characters were also trying to hold on to what they could of their culture.
Lahiri’s writing flowed beautifully and left me wanting more. It’s understated yet eloquent, and I constantly found myself rereading passages becase of th way they were written.
So that’s my first ever attempt at reviewing a short story collection (I think..). I hope I expressed why I loved Interpreter of Maladies so much and why i can’t wait to read more of Lahiri. I’m so glad I signed up for the South Asian Challenge this year because otherwise I may have put off reading this gem for years.
A few favorite passages:
Page 19: Something happened when the house was dark. they were able to talk to each other again. The third night after supper they’d sat together on the sofa, and once it was dark he began kissing her awkwardly on her forehead and her face, and though it was dark he closed his eyes, and he knew that she did, too.
Page 127: In November came a series of days when Mrs. Sen refused to practice driving. The blade never emerged from the cupboard, newspapers were not spread on the floor. She did not call the fish store, nor did she thaw chicken. In silence she prepared crackers with peanut butter for Eliot, then sat reading old aerograms from a shoebox. When it was time for Eliot to leave she gathered together his things without inviting his mother to sit on the sofa and eat something first. When, eventually, his mother asked him in the car if he’d noticed a change in Mrs. Sen’s behavior, he said he hadn’t. He didn’t tell her that Mrs. Sen paced the apartment, staring at the plastic lampshades as if noticing them for the first time….
Title: Interpreter of Maladies
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Date of Publication: 1999
Number of Pages: 198
Genre: Fiction, short stories
Source: Personal Copy