04 May 2010
Book Review: Interpreter of Maladies
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Over and over again, Lahiri's work has been mentioned, reviewed, recommended, and praised. I, being practically unnatural, had never read a single word of hers, and honestly had never really heard of her before the blogging world. But I finally have read Lahiri, and I must say I was not disappointed.
In general, I am not a huge fan of short stories. I read and enjoy them from time to time, but I do not seek them out and 99.999% of the time, I much much prefer novels. Actually, I tend to want short stories I enjoy to be turned into novels. While this desire was not totally eliminated by Lahiri, it was definitely diminished.
Each story in this collection is moving, tragic, beautiful, and elegant in turn. The collection features Indians both abroad and in India longing for personal connection and intimacy. Despite the thematic similarity, each story is unique. From a couple who has lost a child to a tour guide contemplating adultery to an old woman mourning the loss of her past, each tale challenges readers' emotions with evocative situations and imprecise morality. I continually placed myself in the shoes of various characters and tried to determine how I would react to the situation, how I would feel. And I think that's the beauty of these stories; even though these stories are ultimately heartbreaking, the thought-provoking quality keeps them from being just depressing.
"This Blessed House" was one of the most thought-provoking for me. Twinkle and Sanjeev, newlyweds of an arranged marriage, have moved into a new home, and much to Twinkle's delight, Christian artifacts - of the tacky variety - keep popping up in unexpected places. Sanjeev wants to just throw them out, but Twinkle has started a menagerie on the mantelpiece, has a larger than life poster of Jesus in her study, and kept a statue of the Virgin in the yard. Sanjeev and Twinkle are two very different people, and the reader is continually reminded of how little they know each other, how little they are suited.
A happy ending would see these two divorced, finding a partner more their style and speed, but in this story [plot spoiler ahead] Sanjeev just gives in to Twinkle's more dominant, more free-spirited personality. There was something so tragic about this. I could feel the Sanjeev's reluctant acceptance of his life, his resignation.
I will definitely be reading more Lahiri after this. But first, I have Ishiguro's Nocturnes to read...
If I've missed yours, let me know!
Book Addiction; Hey Lady; Rebecca Reads; You've Gotta Read This; things mean a lot; books i done read;
Question: How is it that we enjoy "depressing" stories?
FTC Disclosure: Book number 6 from The Library.
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,