Interpreter of Maladies

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.

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12 responses to “Interpreter of Maladies

  • jessicabookworm

    I’m not usually a short story reader either, the same as you I don’t purposefully avoid them as such just love novels so much. At the minute I’m reading The Birds and other Short Stories by Daphne Du Maurier, I mainly wanted to read The Birds which actually turned out to be only 40 pages long….I wanted so much more!! Hehe.

    • kimberlyloomis

      Oooh- I might just check that out, Jessica! Thanks! I definitely recommend this set of short stories as the writing is quiet exemplary. The first story in the collection I found to be particularly poignant and left an indelible impression of Lahiri on my mind. I think one of her novels will make it into my TBR pile sooner, rather than later.

      • jessicabookworm

        I’ve now read two of the stories by Daphne Du Maurier and the writing is truly beautiful, I am now encouraged to read more short stories from now on. So I will making a note of your recommendation.

  • Rosebud

    Hi Kimberley!!

    so nice that you visited. I’m sorry it was such an old blog post. I’ve been very busy!
    You have a great blog. I haven’t had time to check it right out, but it looks very informative.
    Do you write?
    I’m on a writing site. the Next Big Writer. It is very good, and helpful.
    I like your links.

    I don’t read short stories, and I’ve just started to enjoy writing them. For some reason I write best when I have a theme. It’s like being in class… haha

    Thank you
    Louise

    • kimberlyloomis

      Louise,

      Thanks for stopping by! I love your blog as well! Lots of wonderful and informative stuff over there. I keep meaning to sign up over at the Next Big Writer but I always manage to forget to do it until I’m laying in bed and have little interest in moving. I applaud people who write short stories. Every time I try I feel my word choices aren’t quite adequate nor the plot “deep” enough. Although, after reading Lahiri, I’m thinking about giving it another try. A theme, as you suggest, seems to be the sanest approach to take- good idea!

      I shall be popping in at your blog again soon!

      best,
      Kimberly

  • Elana Johnson

    I’m not a short story reader either. But I always enjoy good writing. 🙂

  • Corra McFeydon

    I was introduced in lit class this summer to short stories by writers like Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, as well as Hemingway.

    The most startling, disturbing, meaningful one I read was Tim O’Brien’s How To Tell a True War Story:

    http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/pdocs/obrien_story.pdf

    (full text)

    So much can be condensed in a short. It’s a distinct and worthy form of literature, IMO.

    ~ Corra

    from the desk of a writer

    • kimberlyloomis

      As with so many things in life- sometimes the initial impression formed about something new gives an unfavorable impression. Short stories I had been exposed to were Kafka -a rather indistputed great, imo, but incredibly twisted (I still carry the mental scars from *The Green Kitten*), Poe -who I’ve come to the conclusion about as being over rated as a short story author, and then some from a literary mag -those did not go well.

      Funny you mention Faulkner- *The Sound and the Fury *is one of the books I’ll be reading next! O’Brien is wonderful and, until your post, I didn’t know he wrote a short story. I’ll be checking that out! *The Things They Carried *is an amazing book. The others I’ll be sure to check out as well (I know, I know, I am somewhat ashamed I haven’t read Hemingway yet, either).

      I had no idea this blog would wind up serving so well in adding to my TBR pile. Thanks!

      *Please note this response was written sans coffee.

      ~Kimberly

  • Corra McFeydon

    (Also sans coffee):

    I’m new to Hemingway. I just read his short story “Soldier’s Home.” Excellent stuff. I have one of his novels on my 100 list (A Farewell to Arms)- also Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying.

    I didn’t know O’Brien wrote novels! I added The Things They Carried to Goodreads. Thanks!

    I like Kate Chopin and Gail Goodwin too for shorts. Try Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily.’

    I left you a couple awards at my blog:

    from the desk of a writer

    All the very best,
    Corra 🙂

    • kimberlyloomis

      Oh my goodness! I just saw this post, Corra! First: As I Lay Dying is also on my TBR list (The Sound and the Fury looks to be very promising based upon the first couple pages I’ve read. Second: I’m totally adding those other works to my TBR list! And thank you so much for the awards! So glad you like the blog that much. 🙂

  • Literary Awards « The Perpetual Writer

    […] awards and certainly some of the works that have garnered them.  The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri certainly warranted the praise and acclaim they did (at least in my not so humble opinion) while […]

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