Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Review: The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Lahiri's subtle, bittersweet ending is characteristic of the collection as a whole. Some of these nine tales are set in India, others in the United States, and most concern characters of Indian heritage. Yet the situations Lahiri's people face, from unhappy marriages to civil war, transcend ethnicity. As the narrator of the last story, "The Third and Final Continent," comments: "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." In that single line Jhumpa Lahiri sums up a universal experience, one that applies to all who have grown up, left home, fallen in or out of love, and, above all, experienced what it means to be a foreigner, even within one's own family.

I started out reading this book with the short story that had the title of the book and it was, to be honest, my least favorite of the short stories. But I didn't give up on the book yet, there was a certain tone in the author's writing that tugged somewhere inside me and the abrupt ending of the short story left me unsettled and intrigued.

For me, if a book has a strong message, or at least a powerful honest one from the author, no matter how much I disliked the book, I would still regard the book with respect. I have never given a book a one star rating, but I did for a book I had to read for my Arabic class. But, after analyzing it in class, I felt that I understood the author and his message and despite me not liking his style and honestly not understanding half of what he meant on my own, I respect the book. My views changed after dissecting it and revealing the message behind it.

I did stray a bit from my point, but what I am trying to say is despite the short story Interpreter of Maladies was not something I enjoyed particularly, I loved the message the author portrayed and I still decided to give the next short story for class a go and I loved it. Sexy really made me discard by initial opinion of the book.

I am not sure how many of the short stories we would discuss in class, but we are allowed to use them for our exam. I wanted to start the book right from the first short story and work my way to end. I did not want to stray from the sequence the author chose, I do believe it has a significance.

There is something about the overall mood of the story, an overall melancholic vibe and yearning for something that Larihi laced her words with, that left me feeling enchanted. I am not quite a fan of short stories because they end too quickly, leaving me wanting more. Or, the characters would feel underdeveloped due to the story ending to fast, the events to me would be too little. Lahiri however, excelled in making her short stories adequately pleasing, I wouldn't complain when they end. The ending would be sudden leaving you out of breath, shocking you.

I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives the short-stories have shown, illuminating the faults and blessings that both cultures contain. Being an Arab and living in a society where the some are blinded by the West and some are too harshly condemning them, I could identify with many things the author portrayed.

I apologize for my long absence, I have been struggling with school work, I keep on forgetting to make time for my blog. Since my cousin started posting again, it kind of motivated me to post once again. I always have some nice ideas, but I barely have time to post them, but hopefully I will. I certainly will try.

Happy reading,