Thursday, December 22, 2011

Intrepreter of Maladies - 2000

Title: Interpreter of Maladies
Author:  Jhumpa Lahiri
Published:  1999, Mariner Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Accolades:  2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2000 Hemingway Foundation /PEN Award

I know, I know I have absolutely no excuse on why I haven't read this amazing book before - especially since it's been sitting on my shelf for at least two years.  I am so happy that I finally did decide to read it and now I have a girl crush on a new to me author.

Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of nine short stories that focus on Indians and first generation Indian Americans as they face subtle and not so subtle cultural differences that leaves each character feeling isolated and wanting in a new country. Many of the stories also center on arranged marriages and have a lingering sadness as the characters try to maneuver and assimilate to life in their new worlds with people that they barely know.

Lahiri writes each story with a refined elegance that literally took my breath away.  Her writing is reflective and touching as she helps the reader find the soul in each flawed character. My favorite story was The Third and Final Continent (it's also the only story with a positive ending). All the characters in The Third and Final Continent, whether it's the newly arrived Indian immigrant or the ninety-nine-year-old American woman, feel alienated. Lahiri gently shows the reader that we all suffer from the human condition and need to hold on to each other to navigate in our worlds.

If you haven't read this book - you should.  Lahiri is a master of the short story.  After reading Interpreter of Maladies I wanted to read more books by Lahiri - always a good sign.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Richard Russo Empire Falls

Marrying into the 1%

In our land of American opportunity, Empire Falls by Richard Russo reminded me that the fastest- and in some cases only- way into the top 1 percent is to marry in. The book’s looming character is the wealthiest woman in this small town, Francine Whiting. She married in. The town’s previous money stream was work at the Whiting shirt factory. Since it closed, the citizens wait for a limo with Massachusetts plates to buy and re-open the factory. And they depend on the generosity of Mrs. Whiting. Or, they consider marrying in. It won in 2002, it sounds like 2011.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize 2002