While I was on the phone the other day with my very good friend Mariam, the subject of our current reading lists came up. I was surprised to find that Mariam was reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies. It’s a collection of short stories that I finished a couple of weeks ago and haven’t stopped thinking about since. We both agreed that these stories, which shed light on the lives of Indian immigrants in the US, are just beautiful in every sense of the word. Each tale is a masterpiece. Lahiri raises various issues such as integration, arranged marriages, detachment from home and marital complexities. It is no surprise that this collection of stunning tales clinched the Pulitzer Prize.
Lahiri’s stories avoid cliché, as they draw what I perceived as a realistic picture of the lives of first and second generation Indian immigrants. One thing I liked was the way Lahiri presented the issue of arranged marriages, which is quiet common in Indian society. In one of her tales, an arranged marriage was doomed to failure from the beginning. While in another, an arranged marriage worked beautifully, as the couples involved fell in love shortly after they tied the knot. In this manner, Lahiri has succeeded in presenting a balanced portrayal of preplanned nuptials.
I could go on forever about how much I enjoyed this book but I won’t. I would simply say that it was one of the best books I have read in a very long time. It is simply a treat.