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Mr. Kapasi, the protagonist of Jhumpa Lahiri's title story, would certainly have his work cut out for him if he were forced to interpret the maladies of all the characters in this eloquent debut collection. Take, for example, Shoba and Shukumar, the young couple in "A Temporary Matter" whose marriage is crumbling in the wake of a stillborn child. Or Miranda in "Sexy," who is involved in a hopeless affair with a married man. But Mr. Kapasi has problems enough of his own; in addition to his regular job working as an interpreter for a doctor who does not speak his patients' language, he also drives tourists to local sites of interest. His fare on this particular day is Mr. and Mrs. Das--first-generation Americans of Indian descent--and their children. During the course of the afternoon, Mr. Kapasi becomes enamored of Mrs. Das and then becomes her unwilling confidant when she reads too much into his profession. "I told you because of your talents," she informs him after divulging a startling secret.
I'm tired of feeling so terrible all the time. Eight years, Mr. Kapasi, I've been in pain eight years. I was hoping you could help me feel better; say the right thing. Suggest some kind of remedy.
Of course, Mr. Kapasi has no cure for what ails Mrs. Das--or himself. Lahiri's subtle, bittersweet ending is characteristic of the collection as a whole. Some of these nine tales are set in India, others in the United States, and most concern characters of Indian heritage. Yet the situations Lahiri's people face, from unhappy marriages to civil war, transcend ethnicity. As the narrator of the last story, "The Third and Final Continent," comments: "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." In that single line Jhumpa Lahiri sums up a universal experience, one that applies to all who have grown up, left home, fallen in or out of love, and, above all, experienced what it means to be a foreigner, even within one's own family.--Alix Wilber
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Books, Cafe Libri, Fiction, Pulitzer Prize, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter Of Maladies

Details

ISBN-10:  039592720X
ISBN-13:  978-0395927205
Author:  Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre:  Literature & Fiction
Publisher:  Mariner Books
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review by . May 06, 2013
An impressive and elegant debut collection of short fiction. Pulitzer worthy.
Interpreter of Maladies is a remarkable first book that details the Indian-American immigrant experience as well as issues stemming from the process of Americanization and assimilation, for there are anxieties, bouts of loneliness to a plethora of other problems-and they are not always easily fixed-especially when it's with a wider mentality of "you" against the world and society.      Written with such pristine clarity, each story is quite capable of sweeping …
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
In truth, I'm not quite finished with the book, but the majority that I have read is fantastic.
Quick Tip by . June 18, 2010
Several great stories.
review by . January 08, 2009
This collection of nine stories was the choice for our January book club. Jhumpa Lahiri is a talented storyteller and the topic of "maladies," which is woven through each tale, made for interesting discussion. The stories are character-rich and are set in both India and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Regardless of the setting, Lahiri's description is filled with minute, sensory-oriented detail. The characters become three dimensional as they share what humors and ails them. All are …
review by . July 17, 2001
Interpreter of Maladies is a poignant collection of short stories. Written in a straightforward yet evocative prose, most of the stories are of bittersweet loss -- yet loss that is not catastrophic, but is instead almost nostalgic. All the stories interweave losses or troubles that all of us either face or can readily identify with, with a future that is happy -- happy in the normal, everyday sense that people are happy. (There are some exceptions to this.)And Lahiri does a excellent job of telling …
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