Elizabeth (Alaska)'s Reviews > Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Sep 01, 10

bookshelves: 5-star-reads, pulitzer, short-stories
Read in August, 2010

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 shedding tears is commonplace. I did both.

Lahiri also has a way of seeing and describing ordinary objects in a new and different way - new to me anyway. In a later story, this sentence I read and reread:
The beach was barren and dull to play on alone; the only neighbors who stayed on past Labor Day, a young married couple, had no children, and Eliot no longer found it interesting to gather broken mussel shells in his bucket, or to stroke the seaweed, strewn like strips of emerald lasagna on the sand.
Emerald lasagna is such a perfect description. Never again will I see seaweed without thinking of this story of Eliot and Mrs. Sen, who wouldn't learn to drive, who chopped vegetables with her special knife from "home" and who wanted whole fish to cook.

Each of the nine stories in Interpreter of Maladies shares people in slightly different situations. Lahiri's characters are ordinary people made extraordinary. They lead simple lives, but see life as special. She makes it special for me.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Wonderful review Elizabeth!


message 2: by Rose (last edited Sep 03, 2010 10:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rose This is in the top five of wonderous books I've read!
My favorite author. It's easy for me to see why this won a Pulitzer for her. A Temporary Matter was the best thing I have ever read.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I definitely put this on my Top Ten list - and there aren't 10 on that list yet. ;-) Yes, A Temporary Matter was the best in this collection, but they were all so good, each had something special. I'm thinking of putting her The Namesake into my reads for the upcoming quarter, but haven't decided yet. It may be too soon for another.


message 4: by Maria (last edited Sep 07, 2010 08:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maria Yes, yes and yes, Elizabeth. While Strout is a fine writer, for example, and so is Erdrich, and Munro is in a class of her own, we then read THIS, her best, by the way, imho. Incomparable. Brilliant work. Lahiri, again to me, is unforgettable here. I love your review, ma'am.


Shannon Very eloquent review! I, too, noted the "emerald lasagna" seaweed, haha. Only Lahiri could conjure such creative imagery!


message 6: by Shoma (new) - added it

Shoma Mukherjee I love every thing about the book. I am indian myself , same place where Ms.Lahiri is from and I can relate with her in so many level but I feel that is are not just indian story but story of anyone.


Subhojit Bera which story did you like the most? I was spellbound after reading sexy.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Subhojit wrote: "which story did you like the most? I was spellbound after reading sexy."

It's been a long time since I read this. I think Mrs. Sen's was the best for me, but if I read it again, I might think differently. They were all so good.


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