When I picked this book up from the library I had little knowledge of its structure. In truth I had put it on hold as a curiosity for the author- one whom I’ve never read before and have heard amazing things about. So, as a novel reader, I was a bit surprised to find myself flipping the pages of a collection of short stories. I am not typically a short story reader not for any particular reason other than enjoying novel length fiction better but this changed my mind.
Lahiri’s collection, winner of a couple little awards like the Pen/Hemingway and the Pulitzer, is wonderful. The commonalities amongst the stories in the collection have to do with ethnic origin (Indian) as well as the link back to India almost certainly being rooted in Calcutta. Her descriptive voice is lyrical and balanced which left me almost always wanting to continue reading each story past the point of which it was written.
Not a big short story reader I’m not used to getting to “The End” and being left with wondering where things would go for the characters and having to peaceably resolve within myself that I would never know. It isn’t as frustrating as I thought it would be. The vignettes provided enough information for me to become involved with the characters and vested in their struggles as well as filled me with a greater interest in seeing what Lahiri would be capable of in a novel.
I can’t say it’s the best work I’ve read but I can say Lahiri is, in my opinion, an author one should endeavor to check out. Her voice is distinct, prose is lyrical and her ability to imbue both history and culture into stories 20-30 pages in length is tremendous.