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Interpreter of Maladies [School & Library Binding]

Jhumpa Lahiri
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 2001

Pulitzer-winning, scintillating studies in yearning and exile from a Bengali Bostonian woman of immense promise.

A couple exchange unprecedented confessions during nightly blackouts in their Boston apartment as they struggle to cope with a heartbreaking loss; a student arrives in new lodgings in a mystifying new land and, while he awaits the arrival of his arranged-marriage wife from Bengal, he finds his first bearings with the aid of the curious evening rituals that his centenarian landlady orchestrates; a schoolboy looks on while his childminder finds that the smallest dislocation can unbalance her new American life all too easily and send her spiralling into nostalgia for her homeland…

Jhumpa Lahiri’s prose is beautifully measured, subtle and sober, and she is a writer who leaves a lot unsaid, but this work is rich in observational detail, evocative of the yearnings of the exile (mostly Indians in Boston here), and full of emotional pull and reverberation.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • School & Library Binding: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval (Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0613257200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613257206
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.9 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,184,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London of Bengali parents, and grew up in Rhode Island, USA. Her stories have appeared in many American journals and her first collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize 2000 for Fiction, the New Yorker Prize for Best First Book, the PEN/Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Award. Her novel, The Namesake, was published in 2003 and is now a major motion picture from the director of Monsoon Wedding. Unaccustomed Earth, her latest collection of stories, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and was a New York Times Number One bestseller. Jhumpa Lahiri lives in New York with her husband and two children.

(Photo credit: Elena Seibert)

Product Description


‘Lahiri has an extraordinary voice’
Salman Rushdie

‘Jhumpa Lahiri is the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person you see and say
“Read this!”
She’s a dazzling storyteller with a distinctive voice, an eye for nuance, an ear for irony. She is one of the finest short story writers I’ve read.’

‘Jhumpa Lahiri’s strong, subtle short story collection is a debut to relish.’

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

"Jhumpha Lahiri is the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the first person you see and say 'Read this!' She's a dazzling storyteller with a distinctive voice , an eye for nuance , an ear for irony. She is one of the finest short story writers I've read." AMY TAN

"Another side of India emerges when Lahiri sets her stories solely in Calcutta - where her protaganists are not Harvard academics but stair sweepers and outcasts. The nostalgic mist of homesickness lifted, India emerges raw, chaotic and often harsh...After reading three of these stories, I found myself rationing the remaining six, to try to make the book last longer. A lovely collection." Victoria Miller, SCOTSMAN

"The genius of Jhumpha Lahiri's storytelling lies in her restrained drollery, her eye for details, and her tone of wise consolation." Anthony Quinn, HARPERS & QUEEN

"Dazzling writing...Simply put, Lahiri displays a remarkable maturity and ability to imagine other lives. Each story offers something special." USA TODAY

"Strong, subtle...a debut to relish." GUARDIAN

"Jhumpa Lahiri's strength as a writer stems partly from her ability to delineate in telling detail the mores of bith societies... There are at the moment many good writers of Indian origin who recall with troubled nostalgia a past they do not want to return to but somehow hope to resolve by explaining it in fictional form. Lahiri joind the ranks of those whose work goes further and illuminates human nature in general." TLS --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
THE NOTICE INFORMED THEM that it was a temporary matter: for five days their electricity would be cut off for one hour, beginning at eight P.M. A line had gone down in the last snowstorm, and the repairmen were going to take advantage of the milder evenings to set it right. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Jhumpa Lahiri makes writing seem so easy. The words just flow from the page, hugely descriptive yet not painfully so. The plots are intricately weaved and each story is a success. This book, which was published in paperback, is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the equivalent of a film going straight to video and winning an Oscar. While the stories all have an immigrant focus, they will appeal to anyone who enjoys quality writing. A must have. Tell all your friends.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This collection has many ups and a few downs... 21 Feb 2010
By Lee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Several of the stories in Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies leave you with a feeling you ought to be left with when reading a short story- like you have been fed a very interesting snippet of a life which is not yours. It is a pleasant read, the stories starting off downbeat and eventually becoming very optimistic, displaying clear comparisons about the impact of the western world on people of Indian descent who experience it. Lahiri is quite good at making characters seem believable, although she seems to be obsessed with academics.

Out of the nine stories, four of them were really great (the first and last being personal favourites), another three were fine reads, and then there were a couple which left you feeling quite short-changed. Some people may be irked by Lahiri's determinedly literal writing style; she goes into detail but keeps the writing frank, which might be off-putting to people who prefer a bit more emotion injected into their writing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldnt put the book down 11 Jan 2001
By A Customer
There are many Indo-American books currently doing the rounds and I have probably read most of these. This book is one of the best. I stayed up many a night to read this book. The stories are beautifully told. Often, the stories would end quite abruptly and there was no happy ending or at least the hope of one - but then that is life. Excellent writing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated and gorgeous 12 May 2010
There's a trend that runs through most modern fiction about India, and that is of overcooked literary constructs, wordy sentences and cardboard cut-out cliches of people, tastes and smells.

Luckily, Jhumpa Lahiri decided not to rely on any of that. Her writing is simple, understated but yet so powerful. The simplicity doesn't feel contrived at all. It's natural, light and unassuming, but still so satisfying.

My only complaint was the continuous references to food (mustard oil, curry, aubergines, etc) which strayed into the formulaic 'Indian fiction' I mentioned earlier but, to be honest, I only got round to reading this ten years after it was first published in the UK so it could be that all the cliched food stuff came after this was written.

Overall, I highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable read! 20 Nov 2012
By Sojii
If you are interested in literature about India, or Indian culture in its many forms, then this is a book to put on your reading list. I don't read a lot of short stories, because I usually like to really get into a good longer story; however in this collection, I felt like each story built upon the last. The reader is presented with a different facet of life relating to Indian culture. I definitely did not find the stories "samey", as I have read in other reviews. Yes, they are all connected by common threads, but there is a world of subtle differences between each tale.

In my opinion, the first story, A Temporary Matter really shone out amongst the collection, and although I couldn't book the book down, none of the other stories had me quite as enchanted as the first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hit the short-story Jackpot with this one! 13 Dec 2009
By Jessica
This is a lovely book of short stories. Even though each story is not long, I became quite engrossed in each one, something that other stories take longer in length to typically accomplish. This book presents the lives of people with origins in India, some stories take place in India, others where Indians emigrated (several times they are in Boston). The stories are reflective, and generally show people at turning points of their lives, or when they are vulnerable. I find it quite amazing that the young author was able to take the view points of people of different ages, male or female. Another message I particularly connected with is that what some may consider to be the everyday can in fact be extraordinary. It's so easy to make fun or scoff at anyone. But for many people, regardless of origin, making it through the day with satisfaction of some sort at day's end is a big deal, often in a very personal way that you don't share with others, except perhaps those closest to you. This book touches on that. Lahiri's prose is beautiful. I loved this book
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting 13 Aug 2005
A wonderful collection of short stories about people and relationships. It is a hilarious mix of India and America, of traditional and modern, love, jealousy, grief, loneliness and dreams. Ms Lahiri successfully cut across cultural boundaries through characters that imprint themselves in the minds of readers of al backgrounds. It is understandable why Ms. Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the O. Henry Award and the Pen/Hemingway Award in her first published work. She possesses a huge vocabulary and unique writing style. I also recommend For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, The Usurper and Other stories, The Catcher in the Rye. Short stories like these are a rare gift to the reading world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Early promise
Good stories, though not as good as the later novels. So would probably have enjoyed it more if I'd read it when it first came out.
Published 1 month ago by Helen Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writer
Each story is so interesting and well written. She has such attention to detail, but in an easy, unobtrusive way. Such insight into human relationships and human beings. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mrs. Anne Currie
4.0 out of 5 stars Good bookclub choice
I usually don't read short stories but this was chosen for our bookclub April read and I really enjoyed dipping in and out.
Short stories that say a lot.
Published 5 months ago by Karon.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection
This was my first introduction to Lahiri, and as a result I gobbled up all of her subsequent works - these are wonderful stories stretching between the traditional homeland and the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely book
lovely book which I really enjoyed. some of the stories are a little sad but still good, others are heart warming. Read more
Published 7 months ago by sophyreviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Jhumpa Lahiri
This is a beautifully written book of compelling short stories. Jhumpa Lahiri is an extraordinary writer who's short stories in particular take one into worlds that resonate... Read more
Published 7 months ago by IS
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, with an attention to the nuances of the characters.
Through this set of short stories Ms. Lahiri shows hereself to be a skilful writer, with a ready perception of her characters and their cultural context.
Published 11 months ago by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars indian adventures
impressive and unusual- convincing portraits of expatriots and others in lucid prose and a sharp eye for the telling detail
Published 12 months ago by Rowland Atcherley
5.0 out of 5 stars Jhumpa Lahiri never disappoints
Beautifully written stories that have a depth that is often difficult to capture in short stories. For the Indian diaspora, there is a lot to relate to in this book and Lahiri's... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Karmen Naidoo
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic read
really nice collection of short stories, very easy to read only fault I wish it was longer, this book won't disappoint. If you like Indian writers this is a must!!
Published 12 months ago by F. Brown
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