Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of 9 unique short stories with a common thread… the characters are mostly people of Indian descent, either in America or India.
Lahiri tells these fish out of water experiences of immigrants and first generation Americans with compassion. They are stories of everyday situations and frustrations; snapshots of daily life. Lahiri’s precise attention to detail is what makes them so amazing.
All 9 stories are excellent, but my favorite was the first story in the collection. “A Temporary Matter” is about a young married couple whose marriage is suffering after the loss of a baby. Their relationship has disintegrated into long stretches of silence until they get a notice that, for a week, their power will be cut off for an hour each evening. For that week, they share meals and secrets by candlelight, until one heartbreaking secret is more than they can bear.
Lahiri is a gifted writer whose style is very subtle, sensitive and restrained. Her stories are realistic and touching, and are told from different perspectives (1st person, 3rd person, narrator). She writes of arranged marriages, marriages in trouble, loneliness within marriages, an affair between a girl and a married man, envy, fear, love; in other words, the human experience. I would highly recommend this Pulitzer Prize winning collection.
Book clubs can find discussion questions HERE.