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Interpreter of Maladies

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  96,426 ratings  ·  6,434 reviews
Navigating between the Indian traditions they've inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In "A Temporary Matter," published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published May 22nd 2000 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1999)
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Writing short stories is not easy. A novel is an easier literary form in a way - it allows you the space for character and plot development and gives you the space to slowly fall in love with it.

Short story, on the other hand, is like literary speed dating; it only has so much time to set itself apart and make a somewhat decent expression. It's much easier for me to think of good novelists than good short story writers. Let's try - Hemingway, Poe, Bradbury, Chekhov, maybe a few more. Well, I gu
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Amazing, extraordinary - there aren't enough superlatives for this one!

The first story, A Temporary Matter tells of a young married couple who must endure a one hour power outage for five consecutive nights. They determine that in the darkness they will tell each other something they've never before told one another. In just a few pages Lahiri exposes the secret feelings of these individuals. And then she ends the story in a completely unexpected way. Rarely will I gasp while reading, though she
Once again, a very depressing storyline from yet another author of Indian origin. Remember! I am not being parochial here, I am Indian myself. Being very familiar with Indian cinematography and screenplays, I know that Indians are prone to over emphasizing on family sentiments and emotions. But what I fail to understand is how authors based out of other countries too have the same idea of applying sentiments in a very negative sense to their stories. It also beats me how this won the Pulitzer, j ...more
MJ Nicholls
This collection won the Pen/Hemingway Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and— most impressively—the New Yorker Debut of the Year. Oo-wee! When a book receives this amount of awards, it’s a) lazy—why give two prestigious prizes to the SAME book? b) going to give the reader unrealistic expectations and c) a conspiracy of critics. This collection arrived at a time when an Indian writer hadn’t been given a Pulitzer or important award, and the committee wanted to expand its reach outside middle-cl ...more
Like her novel The Namesake, Lahiri's collection of short stories deals mainly with the experience of Indian immigrants in America. They often deal with a more specific experience: a young married couple moves to America shortly after being married so the husband can work at a university, and they have to navigate the new worlds of their marriage and the United States simultaneously. Being an Indian immigrant, or being the child of Indian immigrants, in America is clearly a subject close to Lahi ...more
Jr Bacdayan
There are certain things in life that bewilder and baffle us with their staggering normality. Things so simple yet unmistakably captivating, common-place yet elegant, subtle yet profound. Jumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories is one of those things. She writes with a grace and an elegance that transforms her simple stories into a delicate myriad of words and feelings. Each story transforming you into a singularity bound to its harmonious beauty. The different stories ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Barbara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Diane, Teresa, Maria, Cynthia
Shelves: short-stories, asia
My library presented me with a tattered, yellowing copy of this book. Its shoddy state soon became irrelevant as I quickly became immersed in this collection of stories. Jhumpa Lahiri's style is elegant, evocative and sweet. Her narratives create an aura of reality and presence for the reader.

In a blurb on the back cover, another of my highly regarded authors,Amy Tan, has stated. "Jhumpa Lahiri is the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person you see and say, 'Read this'-" It see
Jun 04, 2008 Krys rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Krys by: everyone
By and large I found this collection overrated. Which is not to say that I didn't find some of the stories fantastic, the title story for example, as well as the 2nd story in the book. And nothing was really bad here, but seldom did any of these stories strike me as anything as phenomenal as Ms. Lahiri's novel The Namesake.

The collection can be sorted into two main types of stories, those in the East, and those in the West. In both cases, what separates most of these stories from the tale of The
Daniel Clausen
I have this fear that used bookstores will cease to exist in the near future. They exist in spite of reality now. What on earth could be the return on investment (ROI) of a used bookstore?

As any connoisseur of used books will tell you, a used book has a much different smell than a new book. Indeed, used books have a variety of smells depending on how old and what kind of paper they are printed on.

Used book stores offer the opportunity to find things--not just books, but the marginal notes of o
In "Interpreter of Maladies", Mrs. Sen’s is a tragic story of the immigrant struggle and an ultimate failure to adjust. Many who read this story view Mrs. Sen’s inability to assimilate solely as a result of her own short-comings, placing full blame on her. However, this incomplete reading fails to consider the external and internal social forces that buffet the immigrant body which must also be held responsible for Mrs. Sen’s end state. These forces, both external- people in society of different ...more
Shayantani Das
5+++++++++++ stars...
As Mrs Croft said"SPLENDID" :D
Aug 10, 2013 Book'd rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Book'd by: Book'd Lady
Big Bright & Shiny Five Stars to this excellent work by Jhumpa Lahiri

Books of Jhumpa Lahiri have been lying since very long in my TBR, but ocean size thanks to Ashu for this personalized gem and making me read this.

The first story Temporary Matter is about a couple who has lost their child and because of the reason they lost their way of living, loving and understanding each other. How they tried to come closer to each other as earlier by changes in their routine, confessing
I can't remember the last time I got so angry reading a book for its sheer New Yorker-ness.

"A Temporary Matter" = 9/10. The best story in the collection. A married couple takes advantage of a blackout to tell each other secrets after the stillbirth of their child. Wrecking to the last page.

"When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" = 2/10. A girl remembers watching for a friend's lost family on the news during the Bangladesh Liberation. Yeah, we get it, the American school system is exclusionary and inef
If you are a lover of the short story, you will hug this book. It is a perfect rendition of the form, with characters who are driven by osmosis. No wonder it won the Pulitzer.

There are a lot of things Lahiri does so well that I enjoyed. Things that made me stay with this collection, finishing it in one day. Did she use her stories to inform of the Indian Diaspora, one wonders? Oh no, not fiction writers, they are not supposed to write with some agenda...blah blah. Well if she didn't mean to be
Some of the stories were brilliant, some were very good and only a couple were meh. This novel captures for me the right tension between foreignness and loneliness and those small wires, crumbs of connection that bridge people and cultures. Yeah, I dug it.

Personally, I don't care about awards (See William H. Gass). And I really don't care that she's a woman (other than the fact that I'm trying to read more women this year) or that she's Indian American (although both are a significant part of t
Most of the short stories are characterized by recurring themes of Indians trying to cope with an alien way of life in America and the subtle identity crisis triggered in one by a life away from one's homeland. Barring a few vivid descriptions of various cultural idiosyncrasies, there is nothing striking about any of the stories. Neither do the stories achieve any emotional resonance of sorts nor is there any strong overarching message one can perceive from a peremptory reading of the collection ...more
The short story collection entitled Interpreter of Maladies is a powerful novel featuring characters caught between cultures, families and often identities. Jhumpa Lahiri as the writer and omniscient observer sympathises with the plight of such characters, having felt herself a sense of identity crisis.

The collection won a pulitzer prize and I believe that it is firmly deserved. The prose is powerfully moving and emotional providing insight into how culture, or a lack of, influences individuals.

Originally posted here.

There are a number of books that have left me nursing a huge hangover for days. You know that feeling: you couldn’t begin to read your next book because you still keep thinking about the one you’ve just finished - because you couldn’t get over how good that last book was. Now take that feeling and multiply it by nine – one for each of the nine stories that comprise Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer-winning collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies – that was how much I
I feel kind of bad giving this collection 2 stars but it really was "just OK."

Lahiri's not a bad writer but I just never connected with any of her stories in any way.

That said, if the last story were the only one, I'd have given it 3 stars for the character of Mrs. Croft; and there are interesting parts in other selections. Like the little boy in "Sexy" or the tour guide in "Interpreter of Maladies."

I didn't waste my time reading any of these stories but I'm not going to be going out of my way t
Surprisingly pleasantly enjoyable.

I'm not really a big lover of short stories but I found I enjoyed reading this collection. My issue with short stories is that some collections feel incomplete to me and I'm left wondering or wanting more. I was surprised to find that in their essence each story was quite complete and just enough as it was. I liked them. Each story in one way or another touching on or teaching something about the Indian culture and sometimes the immigrant experience at home or
Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, is the sort of book that demands to be savored. Each story is a perfect snapshot of life in India or for Indian Americans. The characters are well-developed, and I felt that I could have read a full-length novel about each of them but there was something especially poignant about only spending such a short time experiencing their stories.

Lahiri’s writing is beautiful, with an elegant restraint that makes the words fall away a
In Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri writes about the human experience across cultures. Most of the short stories include characters of Indian heritage, and all of them delve into the universal emotions of love, loss, grief, and hope. Her prose, while sometimes straightforward and sometimes lyrical, leaves a lot unsaid - in its concision lies its strength, because every word counts. Lahiri works in the perspective of the insider and the outsider, incorporating assimilation, stagnation, and ...more
Had a really hard time putting this one down ... I fell in love with Shoba and Shukumar, and with Twinkle especially.

Jhumpa Lahiri has made of herself an Interpreter of Maladies: in these stories her lovingly crafted characters, precisely chosen details, and intensely real storylines serve to describe and translate the symptoms, fears, and experiences of diaspora. As I put down the book, I felt like she had said to me, "I didn't need you to read a whole novel. I did not write out for you all th
Aug 01, 2013 Book'd rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: indian-literature-lovers, short-story-lovers, travel-a-lot-readers, immigrants
Interpreter of Maladies was recommended to me by one of my friends who kept harping about the book all the time to an extent that every-time I thought about him it was this book that I would see swimming in front of my eyes.

Okay, so I was not reluctant about reading it but coming from a person who seldom read books, I was just pushing it for later. Having read it now, I am happy I did as Jhumpa is an amazing story-teller and all her short simple tales in this book have got me enchanted.

The 'Name
Jul 17, 2011 Cheryl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: immigrants, emigrants, travellers, and dreamers
Recommended to Cheryl by: Uday Desai
Thanks Uday for recommending this little treasure. I've two stories left - I couldn't put it down last night until my eyes closed on me against my will!

Ok done. I love that the author helps those of us who haven't the extreme emigration experiences understand a little bit what it's like to be so far from home. At least one character hasn't left her homeland, but even she doesn't fit in because of her mental illness. So, someone like me, raised in green rural northwest Wisconsin and now living in
the last few lines from the third and final continent is so simple and thus rings so true:

"I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. 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 travelled, 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."
Jessica Donaghy
I read this very slowly. After finishing each story, I never had the impulse to immediately continue and read the next. I could only absorb one per sitting. I haven't experienced that before, so I found it interesting. Each story had enough weight that it satiated/exhausted me all by itself.
Jan 02, 2015 Lynai rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lynai by: Monique
Also posted in It's A Wonderful Bookworld.

I finished this book a month ago but decided that I needed some time to sort out my thoughts and feelings before I write what I thought about it. Although, in the past, this kind of delaying often results to me forgetting some parts of the story and making it hard to come up with a decent review, with Interpreter of Maladies, this proved to be untrue.

Despite the length of time that had lapsed since I was done reading, the stories in this collection still
ترجمان الأوجاع

ليس العنوان وحده ما يفتن في هذه المجموعة القصصية، للكاتبة الأمريكية من أصل هندي (جومبا لاهيري)، والتي نالت عليها جائزة البوليتزر لعام 2000 م، بل كذلك القصص الجميلة التي تأخذنا إلى عالم الهنود الأمريكان، فلقد تعودنا على روايات وقصص هنود بريطانيا، ولكنها المرة الأولى – بالنسبة لي على الأقل – التي اقرأ فيها لهندية أمريكية.

للاهيري تلك القدرة الفذة على خلق عالم متكامل من خلال صفحات قليلة، كما لديها القدرة على إبراز الشخصيات ونحت ملامحها، ففي أول قصص المجموعة (شأن مؤقت) تأخذنا إلى عمق
This book is a collection of soulful short stories of Indian immigrants living in the US and I think some stories where in India too, I read this book maybe in 2006 or 2007 but every time I think of a book that really touched me emotionally I think of this book or Alice Munro's short stories. I came across Interpreter of Maladies by chance, it was left at the lunch table at my office where co-workers exchange used items. I picked up and didn't read it for a while... After reading the 1st short s ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri 9 34 Mar 22, 2015 07:44AM  
College Students! : Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri 1 17 May 01, 2014 03:23PM  
A Temporary Matter 3 69 Apr 08, 2014 09:11PM  
Tackling the Puli...: Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri, 2000) 10 29 Apr 07, 2014 02:50PM  
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  • A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
  • Guard of Honor
  • Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
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Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age.

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple degrees from Boston Un
More about Jhumpa Lahiri...
The Namesake Unaccustomed Earth The Lowland The Namesake: A Portrait of the Film Based on the Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (Newmarket Pictorial Moviebooks) Hell-Heaven

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“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.” 373 likes
“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 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." (from "The Third and Final Continent")” 67 likes
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