I am participating in a community event organized by a fellow blogger at Weird and Wonderful
My book review for March is: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. This is another book from the list of Pulitzer Prize winners.
Interpreter of Maladies is the first book by this author and is a collection of short stories. To be honest, I am not a big fan of reading short stories but I do admire any authors ability to tell a good story in short form.
Lahiri was born in London and raised in the USA, of Indian descent. She does an excellent job of portraying both the clash of cultures and the similarities of people. I had several favorite stories in this book, This Blessed House, was one of them.
“They discovered the first one in a cupboard above the stove, beside an unopened bottle of malt vinegar.” What a great opening line! This Blessed House is a story about Sanjeev and Twinkle, yes, that is her name, the early days of their marriage and their preparations for their house-warming party. Both Indian, both Hindu, Sanjeev is an engineer, detail-oriented, neat, organized. Twinkle is his complete opposite, spontaneous, free-spirited, an office worker and student working on her Masters Degree. As they are cleaning and prepping the house for the party, Twinkle begins to find small tokens of the former owner’s Christianity; a little statue of Jesus, a post-card of St. Francis, a cross key-chain; all of which Twinkle displays to Sanjeev’s growing irritation. What constitutes a delightful treasure hunt to Twinkle gradually develops into a major conflict between them that erupts when a large statue of the Virgin Mary is found buried under fallen leaves in their yard. Of course, Twinkle wants the statue cleaned up and displayed prominently on their front lawn. How Sanjeev learns to appreciate Twinkle and his new, married life makes a delightful, sweet and touching love story.
The title story of the book, Interpreter of Maladies, was another I enjoyed for a different reason. Mr. Kapasi has been hired to be the driver and tour guide for a young American family touring India. The Das family are of Indian descent, both born and raised in America, visiting family in India with their three young children. The story is told from Mr. Kapasi’s point of view as he observes the interactions between the couple and their children as well as telling them a bit about himself. Mrs. Das reveals a secret to Mr. Kapasi, thinking that his other job, as a Gujarati language interpreter to a physician, gives him some special insights and helpful knowledge. What Mr. Kapasi does with this information, his feelings towards Mrs. Das, and how Mrs. Das reacts to his response form the bittersweet ending to the story.
I recommend this book if you are a “people-watcher” who enjoys reading stories of how others view the world and I plan to read another by this same author once I finish my list!