With a new Introduction
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this stunning debut collection unerring charts the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations. In stories that travel from India to America and back again, Lahiri speaks with universal eloquence to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize–winning short-story collection, her Indian American characters struggle to figure out their place in a culture that either negates their heritage or gets it embarrassingly wrong. From a tour guide whose client stuns him with an unexpected confession to a young couple rebuilding their connection after a shattering tragedy, Lahiri’s stories feel wonderfully human even when her characters’ behavior is at its worst. These sometimes dark stories contain flashes of humor and many unexpectedly tender moments that haunted our thoughts for days.
The rituals of traditional Indian domesticity--curry-making, hair-vermilioning--both buttress the characters of Lahiri's elegant first collection and mark the measure of these fragile people's dissolution. Frequently finding themselves in Cambridge, Mass., or similar but unnamed Eastern seaboard university towns, Lahiri's characters suffer on an intimate level the dislocation and disruption brought on by India's tumultuous political history. Displaced to the States by her husband's appointment as a professor of mathematics, Mrs. Sen (in the same-named story) leaves her expensive and extensive collection of saris folded neatly in the drawer. The two things that sustain her, as the little boy she looks after every afternoon notices, are aerograms from home--written by family members who so deeply misunderstand the nature of her life that they envy her--and the fresh fish she buys to remind her of Calcutta. The arranged marriage of "This Blessed House" mismatches the conservative, self-conscious Sanjeev with ebullient, dramatic Twinkle--a smoker and drinker who wears leopard-print high heels and takes joy in the plastic Christian paraphernalia she discovers in their new house. In "A Real Durwan," the middle-class occupants of a tenement in post-partition Calcutta tolerate the rantings of the stair-sweeper Boori Ma. Delusions of grandeur and lament for what she's lost--"such comforts you cannot even dream them"--give her an odd, Chekhovian charm but ultimately do not convince her bourgeois audience that she is a desirable fixture in their up-and-coming property. Lahiri's touch in these nine tales is delicate, but her observations remain damningly accurate, and her bittersweet stories are unhampered by nostalgia. Foreign rights sold in England, France and Germany; author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Interpreter of Maladies
Full of life and an intense emotional connection to the characters within, these short stories may involve the lives of india's people, but the situations are a reminder to us all of our own experiences and the influences of all we meet. Well written, each pulls the reader in and subjects him to the emotional turmoil and highlights that we feel as we travel through our lives, Some of the stories make you smile, some make you sad or upset, but all tug at your heart and touch your very soul.
S.L Scott, 5 May 2011
Must read. Inspiring
One of the most inspiring books I’ve read. Ambitious and engaging.
Insightful and Kind
Jhumpa Lahiri’s characters are extraordinarily ordinary, yet deep as the stars. I miss each one like a friend at the end of each story.