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Interpreter of Maladies is an authentic portrayal of life abroad, it's difficulties, the norms required to adjust.
Interpreter of Maladies is an authentic portrayal of life abroad, it’s difficulties, the norms required to adjust.
Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indo-American author who writes novels, short stories and essays in English and Italian. She is a diasporic writer who understands Indian sensibilities and makes her readers live them through her writings. She won the Pulitzer prize and PEN/ Hemingway Award for Fiction for Interpreter of Maladies in the year 2000.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies is an anthology of short stories that connects borders and brings light to Indian-American lives. She brings forth a myriad of hybrid experiences of Indians who are torn from their culture, trying to make way in a foreign distant land.
Her stories have an element of nostalgia towards the Indian culture, its eccentricities, it’s commonalities and specialties. She plays with one’s senses, be it stirring the sense of smell and taste in her readers by mentioning varieties of fish curries or evoking emotions through emotionally intelligent characters.
Interpreter of Maladies is an authentic portrayal of life abroad, it’s difficulties, the norms required to adjust. She brings to you a chest full of innate habits one has to leave behind to fit in. And a drawer full of practices one keeps to not forget where they belong.
In the aforementioned book, words are strung together by emotions. Reader doesn’t need a moment after reading a line, the language, intent and emotion registers instantly. The stories begin in America but they feel like small anecdotes from a little girl’s diary. The language seems highly personal, a small autobiographical element creeps up while reading.
Lahiri plays with contrast very well in the book, be it the contrast between the American life and Indian life, or the contrast between past and present. One example being the story A Temporary Matter. It’s a story of lost love between a married couple due to an unforeseen calamity i.e. losing a child.
The couple drift apart and Lahiri shows a contrast between their previous life and present life, between the young couple and neighbouring old couple. A contrast between coldness, distance and warmth and closeness. In the book, Lahiri portrays symbolism quite brilliantly.
The story that stands out is titled, Interpreter of Maladies. It’s a story of a couple whose relationship has gone sour due to burden of time and an indifference has crept between them. Lahiri says in a scene when the couple goes to watch the sun temple, ‘It was no longer possible to enter the temple, for it had been filled with rubble years ago…’. These lines and the temple are symbolic of the couple’s relationship.
Her language changes from simple, be it the narrative of a small girl in the story of Mr Peerzada or rhythmic in the story of The Treatment of Bibi Haldar.
In the book, the portrayal of Indian women, their experiences in America is at the focus point. The women don’t break out of conventional roles, but the intricate personal struggle they go through are commendably described.
There’s enough space given to women characters. It is at times a book of misfortunes of women characters, be it the story of Bibi Haldar or the story of Bori Maa. Their personalized struggles evokes empathy, pity but the center of attention is on their story nevertheless.
The stories change location from America to Bengal and she does so effortlessly, showcasing the diversity and eloquence of the author. There are subtle descriptions to minute details of characters and their mannerisms. The book is a narrative of Indians in exile, a book that is worth reading and hard to miss.
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A student of English literature from Jamia Millia Islamia. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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If you want to get back to work after a break, here’s the ultimate guide to return to work programs in India from tech, finance or health sectors - for women just like you!
Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend related to personal financial planning and she shared how she had had fleeting thoughts about joining work but she was apprehensive to take the plunge. She was unaware of return to work programs available in India.
She had taken a 3-year long career break due to child care and the disconnect from the job arena that she spoke about is something several women in the same situation will relate to.
More often than not, women take a break from their careers to devote time to their kids because we still do not have a strong eco-system in place that can support new mothers, even though things are gradually changing on this front.
A married woman has to wear a sari, sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles, anklets, and so much more. What do these ornaments have to do with my love, respect, and commitment to my husband?
They: Are you married?
They: But You don’t look like it
Me: (in my Mind) Why should I?
Why is being married not enough for a woman, and she needs to look married too? I am tired of such comments in the nearly four years of being married.
I believe that anything that is forced is not right. I must have a choice. I am a living human, not a puppet. And I am not stopping anyone by not following any tradition. You are free to do whatever you like to do. But do not force others. It’s depressing.