Book Notes: Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies

I haven’t read anything in English I’ve enjoyed as much as this collection of short stories in 18 months, back when I read a novel by Anthony Trollope.

God, people, what a book. I want to stand on street corners and cry and babble incoherently about it.

It’s hard to explain this but everything in this book is how I feel inside. I don’t just mean the first story which is about a couple whose baby was stillborn. I mean everything. It’s like this writer lives in my brain, it’s crazy. It’s not any particular events but the way of seeing the world.

I have no idea how I spent all this time managing not to read this amazing, amazing writer. On the negative side, I now want to camp out at the Indian restaurant because there’s a lot of Indian food in the book.

Interpreter of Maladies is available for free online in a pdf. Find it and read one of the stories. The first one is very sad, and each one is progressively better than the previous, so I recommend looking in the second half of the book.

Reading great literature is totally like sex but in a different part of the body. It’s total oblivion, relentless urgency, the world stopping, explosions in the brain.

7 thoughts on “Book Notes: Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies

  1. Then you will enjoy (for the want of a better term) another short-story collection by Lahiri “Unaccustomed Earth”.

    Also her recent long novel Lowland is absolutely brilliant. In my opinion, it is better than her most famous novel “The Namesake” (which was also made into a movie).


  2. I remember loving the short story “This Blessed House” by Lahiri while studying immigrant stories in one course.

    Other stories about immigrants were either too dark for my taste or not let one feel anything.

    “This Blessed House” was one of the few stories in which immigrants were not presented as pitiable, and I liked the ironic humor.

    However, didn’t enjoy reading her other stories and didn’t read the novel “The Namesake” despite being required to.

    The nature of my immigration was radically different from described in Lahiri’s stories, so didn’t feel the emotional connection, in addition to not being specially attracted to the writing style.

    If you want, I can search for other authors at that course. You may like some of them, who knows.

    From another course, you may like a female feminist author Bobbie Ann Mason who wrote the famous ‘Shiloh and Other Stories’ (a 1982 collection of short stories).

    From the summary: “The short story alluded to in the collection’s title, “Shiloh”, revolves around a man named Leroy who lives in rural Kentucky and is forced to quit his job as a truck driver after an accident. The plot centers around his attempt to adjust to life after the accident, while at the same time facing problems with his marriage and attempting to cope with the urbanization of his neighborhood, which was once a community of farmers.”


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