Reading List | Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian-American author with an impressive portfolio. Her book debut, a short story collection, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000 and her first novel was quickly adapted in a movie. Lahiri has written several more books since then, but her first two works are particularly exceptional, and hold special significance considering the current political backlash against “outsiders” and multiculturalism.
Interpreter of Maladies
Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize winning debut, is a collection of nine unrelated short stories about the everyday lives of Indian and Indian-American families. Most detail difficult moments of marriage, parenting, news of war in a home country, and poverty. Yet the stories do not read as though they’re covering grand events but rather the intimate human moments that come out of each circumstance. Each story hovers around twenty pages yet still allows for the deep exploration of each character.
The Namesake, Lahiri’s debut novel, similarly follows themes of multiculturalism and the human experience, this time from the perspective of the Gangulis, a Bengali family who moves to Massachusetts following the arranged marriage of the parents. The Gangulis name their firstborn Gogol after a Russian author who bears personal significance for the father, and The Namesake follows Gogol as he attempts to navigate his life as a first-generation American. The story is equally heartwarming and tragic as Gogol’s love life is one tragedy after another, and yet despite his many mistakes the reader cannot help for hope for his happiness in the end.