Review: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

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.

Cravings for Chocolate and Books

Last night I had such a craving for chocolate. It was an out of control, GOTTA HAVE IT craving. B. worked late and wasn’t home or I would have sent him to Dairy Queen. The kids were already in bed so I couldn’t go myself. I went through my pantry, hoping for a stray leftover Christmas cookie, or one of those chocolate covered granola bars, anything! But all I could find was a can of chocolate fudge frosting. I came dangerously close to whipping it open and eating half of it. After a mental tug-of-war, and some quick calculations of how many hours I’d have to spend on the treadmill to work off oh, 900 calories or so, I went to bed (patting myself on the back), but it was a really close call!! When none of your clothes fit, the last thing you need is half a can of fudge frosting. In the harsh light of day, it occurs to me I really should throw it in the trash. (Ha, like that will happen!)

A couple of days ago I finished Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2000. I’ll probably write a review later today. I’m still thinking it over and deciding how much I liked it. Sometimes it takes me a few days to let it settle in my brain, if that makes sense. My kids are home sick today (which may explain some of the moodiness of the last few days) so in between waiting on them and doing extra laundry, I might write a review.

I started The Girls by Lori Lansens Sunday night, and it’s not what I expected. It’s about twin sisters conjoined at the head; interesting characters but so far the book is rather slow moving. Or maybe it’s just me. I’m trying to get into it.

My book club is reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler for our February discussion. I haven’t picked it up yet but need to start it soon. Masterpiece Theater on PBS is having a series of Jane Austen movies on Sundays. It began last weekend with “Persuasion”. See the schedule HERE.

I haven’t read any Jane Austen, ever, nor have I seen any of the movies. I’m not sure how I got through school without reading any Jane Austen, but somehow I did. For that reason, I worried that I might not be able to really appreciate our book club choice, but I’ve been assured by another book clubber (and huge Austen fan) that I don’t need to be familiar with her work to enjoy this book. I’ve been told that once I start reading Austen, I won’t want to stop. Is she really that addicting? Will I crave Austen books the way I do chocolate?

Well, I’m being summoned by the sickies. At times it feels like I work here rather than live here! Any other moms ever feel that way?