Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is the first full book of short stories collection that I’ve read. I’m not so sure yet if I like short stories. They’re okay, but most of the time, they’re just too short. When the stories started, I kept thinking how they would end. Because they end in about 20-30 pages, which is very quick. I guess short stories are good to magnify particular problems or issues.

In this book, Lahiri wrote about lives of Indians in exile: immigrants, American born with Indian heritage, refugees. There are 9 stories in total.

A Temporary Matter is about a couple who struggle to cope with the death of their just-born baby. They can’t seem to communicate with each other anymore, until one day at home they’re having blackout for an hour everyday for a week long, and “forced” to be in each other’s company (since there’s nothing to do during blackout).

When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine talks a little bit about the Partition of India, seeing from a 10 years old point of view.

Interpreter of Maladies tells a story about an American-born Indian family who go on holiday to India, from their guide’s point of view.

A Real Durwan is about an old woman who’s the victim of the Partition (according to her) and stays at an apartment as a durwan (sort of like a guard). On a side note, I don’t understand how you can store your life saving at the end of your sari and anyone could just tug it to steal it.

Sexy is about how the word sexy is interpreted by a little boy :). I kinda like this one.

Mrs. Sen’s is about a woman who left India because of her husband’s work, being frustrated and homesick. Told from a boy who she babysits.

This Blessed House is a story about a newly married couple by arranged marriage who start finding all Christian stuff around their house, left by the old owners. I kinda miss the point of the whole story here.

The Treatment of Bibi Haldar is about a woman who suffers from random seizure. I’m not sure if she’s a bit retarded too or not. This is one of the more interesting stories, even if slightly sad.

The Third and Final Continent is about a guy who migrated from India to UK then US. Again, there’s arranged marriage.

Pages: 198
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 [Pretty Good]

Awards
2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
1999 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award

Quotes

“In those moments Mr. Kapasi used to believe that all was right with the world, that all strugles were rewarded, that all of life’s mistakes made sense in the end.” ~ Interpreter of Maladies p56

“I know my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.” ~ Third and Final Continent p198

Love love the last quote. It’s just so close to home. I too have survived 3 continents :)

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