Jhumpa Lahiri has a new fan in me. Yesterday I completed “Interpreter of Maladies” by her. It is the book for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000. It is a collection of nine short stories.
All the stories are very simple, no suspense and no fast paced narration – just day-to-day lives of normal people, people whom you may pass on the road and rarely give a second glance. Every detail seems to be sketched in the author’s mind when she writes, and she has the ability to etch those details on the reader’s mind. While reading the book I felt transported to the location of the story, I empathized with the protagonist.
You can feel Mr. Kapasi’s dilemma on hearing the revelations by Mrs. Das [Interpreter of Maladies]. You feel anguished for Mr. Pirzada [When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine]. You feel Sanjeev’s irritation [This Blessed House] and Mrs. Sen’s helplessness [Mrs. Sen’s] and Shoba and Shukumar’s pain [A Temporary Matter]. But of the nine short stories, my favourite is “The Third and Final Continent“. The story of one simple guy across three continents, several decades, and one simple laugh with a century old lady is brilliant and touching.