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nataliya

nataliya

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing.

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"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."— J.K. Rowling

Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri Writing short stories is not easy. A novel is an easier literary form in a way - it allows you the space for character and plot development and gives you the space to slowly fall in love with it. Short story, on the other hand, is like literary speed dating; it only has so much time to set itself apart and make a somewhat decent expression. It's much easier for me to think of good novelists than good short story writers. Let's try - Hemingway, Poe, Bradbury, Chekhov, maybe a few more. Well, I guess Jhumpa Lahiri can join the exclusive club. Her novel The Namesake left me wanting more, but her short stories are very well-done. Apparently the Pulitzer people thought the same thing.If I were to describe the stories in Interpreter of Maladies in a single word, it'd be "melancholy". They are permeated by quiet, subdued, rich, and almost beautiful sadness; sorrow that paradoxically sometimes seems almost uplifting, even cathartic. The stories are slow to unfold, contemplative, intensely lyrical, nostalgic, and quietly moving. "Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination." Lahiri writes about India and Indian heritage, be it Indian immigrants to American university towns or people in India. The country itself, its culture, its beliefs, its traditions, and the pain of missing it are ever-present in her fiction. The Namesake dealt with exactly the same premise, and the similarities between that novel and these stories are profound. The similar theme, repeating over and over in the stories, makes you anticipate the storylines, but somehow it does not detract from enjoyment of the prose and the stories. It's not about the plot; Lahiri's storytelling hinges on the inner world of her characters, their hopes, dreams, and memories. "Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, then there is no obstacle he cannot conquer. While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."Overall, I enjoyed this story collection quite a bit. I chose to ration it over a few days rather than swallow them all at once, and it was a good experience. I definitely recommend this book and easily give it 4 stars. Now I'd be curious to see if and how Lahiri can expand her themes and touch on the subjects other than immigrant experience.