2008: 77. The Interpreter of Maladies

“The notice informed them that it was a temporary matter; for five days their electricity would be cut off for one hour, beginning eight P.M.”

First lines of “A Temporary Matter”

The Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri


I must be one of the last people on earth to have read Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories (though to my credit, I read her novel The Namesake years ago and quite enjoyed it).  Despite the delay, I was immediately impressed by the book.  A number of the stories have stuck with me, all this time later (yes, I am a bit behind on my blog).  The first one I read, “A Temporary Matter” which deals with the falling apart of a marriage after their first born is still born almost turned me off the whole book, but I can’t blame Lahiri for the fact I first read it when I was four months pregnant.  And once I got over that aspect, its a fine story - capturing real characters as they remember why they loved each other, and still fall apart.

In “The Blessed House” an Indian couple (well an Indian-American couple, since that is what all the stories are about) keeps finding Christian artefacts around their new house. The husband is appalled, the wife charmed, and they learn to live with each other.  “The Third and Final Continent” set in the 1960’s (right after the moon landing) tells the story of a recent immigrant working at MIT who stays with a slightly demented 90 year old lady in her Cambridge house, as he waits for his new wife to arrive in America.  These, and all the other stories, which are about the Indian immigrant experience - and the American experience.  And they are damn fine stories.


Date/Place Completed: 5/7/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017