Jhumpa Lahiri’s, Interpreter of Maladies is a compilation of 9 short stories, each focusing on certain significant experiences in the lives of ordinary people. Most of these stories focus on characters of Indian descent with the stories themselves set in Bengal or Britain or USA but the theme of most of these stories transcends ethical or geographical boundaries and deals with the feelings of loneliness and alienness in a world where you don’t feel like you really belong.
This Pulitzer Winner has some great stories, a few good ones and some not so good ones.The writing style is beautiful, making it an absolute pleasure to read the stories. The stories are slightly sad and a bit depressing in the beginning but the last ones leave us with a feeling of hope and positivity.
The difficulty with short stories is that it’s not possible to develop the characters a lot or to explore the situations in a lot of detail. So it’s quite commendable how well Jhumpa Lahiri makes us at home in each of these stories. However, the problem with a few of these stories is that they lack closure. We just start getting engrossed in the story and it ends.She leaves us wanting more of the characters and just one more glimpse into their future. She creates a better closure for the last few stories though and overall leaves a very positive impression of the book.
However the book isn’t perfect. Stories like The Real Durwan, Sexy and This Blessed House had some incongruous elements. Women selling their jewellery to fund unnecessary repairs to their apartment building as some sort of a status symbol didn’t really make much sense. The Indian child in Sexy is an extremely clichéd and weird view of how Indian children behave. This Blessed House conveyed its message in a slightly confused, uncomfortable manner. It was not a very easy or a very pleasant read.
Even so the book takes the reader on an enjoyable journey and stories like When Mr. Pirzada came to dine, Interpreter of Maladies and The Third and Final Continent are fantastic. Recommended for people looking for well written short stories