Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri 1999)

3/5 may appeal to the overly self obsessed….

My first acquaintance with Jhumpa Lahiri was through the book “The Namesake”. I loved it. Having grown up a Desi in England, I could really relate to the book. The vivid scenes so impeccably described overpowered me with the consonant interference of my past. With each turning page, my heart beat closer in time with the whirlpool of emotions that weighed down the pages as tears weigh down a ladies handkerchief. Man was it depressing! Looking back, I think I loved the book for its freshness and the fact that it ended on a happy note.

With “Interpreter of Maladies” Jhumpa Lahiri proves without doubt that there is no one else who knows more about the maladies that affect the Desi who settles abroad. And that is my problem with the book. It is filled with so much pain, and each pain is described so well that you can actually feel it. Dysfunctional marriages, arranged marriage disasters meekly suffered, infidelity, cruelty, guilt in a series of short stories that do not all have a happy endings.

That said, a few stories are incredibly architected and leave you wondering, how someone can imagine something like that. There are others that make you feel all warm inside and some that you have to ask “what was the point of that?”. ┬áMy only complaint is that most of them just make you feel terrible.

Jhumpa Lahiri is an amazing writer and will always be one of my favourites, but I really think she has to find a happier release for her talent!