Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies

Rating: 3 out of 5

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Year: 1999

Publisher: Mariner Books

ISBN: 039592720X

The bad thing about reading a Pulitzer winner is that you already build up some expectation about a book. And more often than not, even if the book is good, it falls short and you wonder to yourself, exactly why did it win the Pulitzer again?

Interpreter of Maladies (IoM henceforth) was Ms. Lahiri’s debut book I believe, and the first from her that I’ve read. Its a good book, no doubt, but IMHO its not a //great// book. As subjective as opinions tend to be, you should take mine with a grain of salt, or even better, form your own.

The stories in IoM are not sharp. By that, I don’t mean they’re not witty or anything. I mean they’re not sharp like a knife edge — none of the stories sink into you with a clear, razor sharp image. Not story is going to lead you to a crystallized, focused ending. There will be no message to drive home.

And that, I think, is what makes these stories special. They are like those forgotten stains that appear mysteriously the next place, in the least spot you’d expected. The stories keep coming back to you, nibbling at the back of your head. They take you places, talk to you, leave you wondering, letting you fill in the gaps as you want to see them filled.

However, not all stories are that good. To her credit, I think Ms. Lahiri has a very good line up at the beginning. My favorite would probably be //A Temporary Matter//, while my least favorite would definitely be //The Blessed House//.

Next I’m going to start reading “The Namesake”, on the recommendation of a very dear friend.

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