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on 7 December 2015
Both the writing and the plotting are elegant and deceptively simple, and Ms Lahiri's short stories are a (gentle) pleasure to read. The language is unfussy and so are the characters - ordinary people caught in snippets of their ordinary lives. Yet what the characters symbolize is universal and they illuminate the human condition; they stay with you long after you've read them. And Lahiri's observations are superb: fascinating, wonderfully detailed insights into exotic but everyday lives.

The ruthlessly economical language, overall, does risk creating the impression of cold detachment. Jhumpa Lahiri lists the great Alice Munro among her literary heroes and the influence is easy to detect. I for one happen to love Munro therefore liked Lahiri very much indeed.
And it's true, the book has the faults all short stories collections usually suffer from: read in isolation, each story is interesting, even startling. Each story is also masterfully complete and left me satisfied with the amount of detail about each character, and with the ending. But as a whole book, the stories become repetitive. I quickly found the characters to resemble each other throughout, and that I had read the same story too many times, in this book and elsewhere. The affair between a young woman and an older, married man has been done to death, surely, and so has the young or not so young couple falling out of love. Furthermore, here, unfortunately, the unrelenting stylistic simplicity (the very thing which, for me, defines great writing) ends up feeling a little like dullness, and the author's elegant objectivity could push the reader into feeling disengaged and therefore uninterested.

'Interpreter of Maladies' certainly cannot be described as unputdownable; in fact, it is best to put the book down after one, maximum two stories, and come back to it much later. That being said, there are a few stories to which I shall return with delight, for sure.
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on 21 February 2010
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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on 19 January 2014
lovely book which I really enjoyed. some of the stories are a little sad but still good, others are heart warming. I liked reading short stories - if you aren't so keen on lone you can move onto the next one quickly.
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on 18 March 2014
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 American diaspora, bringing both to life with simple descriptions that pack a punch.
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on 13 December 2009
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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on 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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on 12 February 2015
Whereas Alice Munroe zooms in on small-town Canadian lives, Lahiri homes in on the Indian community of Canada thus opening up the horizons that often seem so narrow in Munroe. As with the older writer, however, the authorial voice remains kind and generous in the face of her characters' failings. Her humanity shines all the way through these stories.
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on 12 April 2016
I found these stories very interesting. It is intriguing to see people from the Indian subcontinent being portrayed as US residents. They haven't usually got as much attention there as some other ethnic groups in the US.
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on 11 January 2001
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 November 2014
Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories given its coherence by a common subject: the Indian diaspora. The characters, Indian emigrants and their children, balance between American and Indian lifestyles and mores. They are neither completely at home in one nor in the other country, in one nor the other culture. The problem of the arranged marriage, and its lack of conformity with the American model, is particularly brought to the fore. My favourite story, incidentally, was not the Interpreter, but This Blessed House, where the US-born, MIT graduate and successful executive Sanjeev finds himself outclassed by his charismatic wife Tanima, the trigger being the discovery of leftover Christian paraphernalia in the Connecticut house they have just bought. Slick and quickly read, this is an enjoyable collection, holding lessons for anyone who has been uprooted from their home culture.
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