Katie's Reviews > Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Dec 26, 09

Read in November, 2009

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 ineffective and you don't fit in anywhere. It's been told before and better.

"Interpreter of Maladies" = 4/10. An infuriating medical interpreter takes a spoiled American family on a tour around Hindi temples, falls in love with the wife, finds out she's petty and human, becomes self-righteous and judgemental and....End. Bah.

"A Real Durwan" = 1/10. A neighborhood throws out a refugee woman after their building gets desecrated when she's supposed to be on guard. Snooze.

"Sexy" = 4/10. A woman tries to make herself "more Indian" for the man she's having an affair with, only for a ridiculously (a.i. unbelievablly) perceptive child to help her realize she's not loved. It would have been interesting, if Lahiri had not convinced me she's never spoken to a ten year old boy.

"Mrs. Sen's" = 5/10. An Indian couple babysits an American boy. The wife is terrified to drive, misses her family, and finally gets in a car accident. The boy's mother never takes him back. This was actually a more interesting story, if only because Eliot and Mrs. Sen are likable.

"This Blessed House" = 1/10. This story is a twitching, murmuring tumor in the otherwise consistent tone of the book. An Indian man regrets marrying his wife, an eccentric named "Twinkle," who refuses to throw out the creepy Christian memorabilia she finds around their new house. She's free-spirited and slobbish, he's anal and retentive. It's like Dharma and Greg. Only worse.

"The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" = 6/10. A girl plagued by seizures burdens her relatives, but is taken care of by the rest of the community. She lives on the roof of their complex, and puts out an ad to find a husband. Her family kicks her out, and she gives up. Inexplicably, she gives birth, and is cured. Reads like a fable.

"The Third and Final Continent" = 4/10. This story might have been worth a damn if not for the unbelievably irritating old woman, and the sermonizing end about how much she inspired the narrator by....being senile? I thought the side-story about him and his wife warming to each other was sweet, but the nonsense with the harridan nuked it like a Panzer tank. Wasted.

Everytime I picked up this book my blood-pressure spiked. I don't know if it's because Lahiri's writing is so delicate and boring that I want to snap the book's spine like a quail's neck or....Erg! This one is going back to the book store.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Dnvn (new) - rated it 1 star

Dnvn This book is horrible.


Ronald Geigle Actually I liked the book. But what a delicious review! It may have made reading the book truly worthwhile. I will admit that a few of the stories made we wonder what the Pulitzer committee was thinking...


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