Customer Reviews


727 Reviews
5 star:
 (422)
4 star:
 (192)
3 star:
 (55)
2 star:
 (28)
1 star:
 (30)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


161 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story telling at its best...
I loved reading Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Interpreter of Maladies'.
Being an Indian myself, I'm tired of reading books that package India's 'exoticism' to the West. Jhumpa Lahiri's stories do not revolve around the "Indianness" of the characters.India is always in the background, but the characters and their emotions are simply human.
In the 'Interpreter...
Published on June 26, 2000 by Mekhala Vasthare

versus
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Subtle Critique of Globalization
Jhumpa Lahiri is an ethnic Bengali writer, born in London. brought up in America, who writes in English. As someone caught between the rootless culture of the modern developed world and the more tradition-bound culture of India, she is well positioned to exploit that vague sense of unease that we feel when we turn our back on our roots and traditions.
The short...
Published on May 7, 2001 by Captain Cook


‹ Previous | 1 273 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

161 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story telling at its best..., June 26, 2000
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
I loved reading Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Interpreter of Maladies'.
Being an Indian myself, I'm tired of reading books that package India's 'exoticism' to the West. Jhumpa Lahiri's stories do not revolve around the "Indianness" of the characters.India is always in the background, but the characters and their emotions are simply human.
In the 'Interpreter of Maladies', Ms. Lahiri's breathtakingly beautiful, yet simple style of storytelling tells you a story about people who just happen to be Indian.The narrative she employs is very humane, with a lot of attention to detail. The stories are strong and delicate at the same time.
I particularly enjoyed the title story 'Interpreter of Maladies' and the last story 'The Third and Final continent'.
Another aspect of her writing I particularly liked is that she doesn't drown the story in style. The narrative occupies centerstage and the story telling is natural, not contrived.
Looking forward to her next book
Mekhala Vasthare
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


87 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Defining moments, November 20, 2003
By 
S. Park (Bay Area, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
Structure-wise the book is a showcase of point of views, which makes one feel as if the book was intended as a study on writing styles. Stories are written in the first person voice (as a Indian girl, as a just married Indian man), in third person voice, and as an intrusive author (in "the treatment of Bibi Haldar"). Events mostly take place in the greater Boston area (which may explain the book's popularity in New England) and Bengal, India. The WSJ review on the back cover is misleading in that not all stories concern immigrants (two short stories concern Indians living in India). However each story has at least one Indian protagonist.
The stories concern snapshots of lives, defining moments of characters. By "defining moments" I do not mean anything grand. These are moments that occur in everyday life, events so banal that they seem negligible at first sight. Yet those moments impact the protagonists in the way that life becomes no longer the same for them. By confessing that their miscarried baby was a boy over a forced (the electricity went out) candle-light dinner, a deteriorating marriage is salvaged (in "a temporary matter"); a seven year old boy's compliment "you are sexy" induces her relationship with a married man to end (upon hearing it she suddenly realizes she is not unique -- in "sexy").
Lahiri is a meticulous writer. You will almost be able to smell her egg curries and feel her bright colored saris. But it is really her quiet, suggestive prose that makes one want more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this review, read the book, April 19, 2000
By 
Ishmael (Sofia, Bulgaria) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
I don't want to give five stars to Jhumpa Lahiri because I feel that if I do, there will be no place left for improvement (not that there is). "Interpreter of Maladies" is probably one of the best short story collections I have ever read in my life. Unlike many of my other favorite authors (let's say Marquez), Lahiri is consistent in her quality of writing throughout the book. At a first glance her themes seem very commonplace, but her language is so eloquent, her sense of mood and detail so subtle, that everything simple turns into profound. The next day I had finished reading Lahiri's book, she won the Pulitzer Prize -- but again, who cares. The only thing that matters to me is that Lahiri has given me a new hope in modern literature. Enjoy!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Subtle Critique of Globalization, May 7, 2001
By 
Captain Cook (Leeward to the Sandwich Islands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
Jhumpa Lahiri is an ethnic Bengali writer, born in London. brought up in America, who writes in English. As someone caught between the rootless culture of the modern developed world and the more tradition-bound culture of India, she is well positioned to exploit that vague sense of unease that we feel when we turn our back on our roots and traditions.
The short stories collected in this Pulitzer Prize-winning volume focus on different aspects of the modern Indian experience. Stories like "Sexy" and "This Blessed House" deal with Filofax-toting, young Indian professionals, apparently successful in the academic or computer fields in the USA, but nevertheless unsure of themselves and spiritually cast adrift in their adopted country. Often a contrast is made between traditional lifestyles, which, although far from perfect, seem somehow more real than modern ones. This echoes the way Chekhov used to juxtapose the hollow, glittery lives of the Russian bourgeoisie with the earthy lives of the peasants.
In "Mrs Sen's" the painstaking method of preparing proper Indian meals, involving a litany of vegetables, is seen through the eyes of a young white boy whose single mother is too busy to look after him. But Lahiri is a good enough writer not to commit herself to narrow cliches about a 'spiritually vacuous West' or a 'soulful India.' Her stories set in the Subcontinent, like "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar," show how superstitious and narrow-minded such societies can be regarding illness and the need for marriage. The women in "This Blessed House" and "A Temporary Affair," by contrast, seem liberated by their lives in America.
These stories explore the psychological and spiritual fissures opened up by the cultural dissonance of our modern age, and, as such, should strike a chord with anyone dissatisfied with the complexity and shallowness of out modern lives. The ultimate value of these stories is that they offer a subtle critique of globalization.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every me and every you, April 7, 2000
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
This collection of stories taking place either in India or New England explores the differing ways people can be foreigners in strange or familiar ways and lands. Lahiri's eloquent storyweaving is full of humor and confusion, and is an utter joy to read. I look forward to a full novel by her.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pulitzer prize for THIS ?, November 1, 2001
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
I enjoyed most of the short stories in this collection. Two of them, although not including the one that gave this collection its' title, were excellent. It was an excellent book for the daily train commute or the 15 minutes before bed time. I find it more than astonishing, however, that it was awared the Pulitzer Prize. It simply does not belong in that category.
The collection contains nine stories each of about 20 pages. The stories all involve Indian characters or characters of Indian heritage, sometimes in India, sometimes in Ameirica. This is a useful plot device to portray stories of isolation and disorientation that can be felt by people who have never even left home. These are not, however, immigrant stories. They are stories of people, and love, and life. They are good stories but they are still only short stories. There is not room for complicated character development or plot twists.
I can find no record of any collection of short stories ever winning a Pulitzer Prize. Why this book ? Was the multi-cultural nature of the book just too politically correct to pass up ?
It is a good book and it is worth a read, but it's no Pulitzer Prize winner.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-deserved Pulitzer, December 15, 2002
By 
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
It's hard to believe that "Interpreter of Maladies" is a first book, it is so beautifully and subtly written. Lahiri reveals the deepest feelings, emotions and motivations of her characters seemingly effortlessly; with a few simple startling details she suddenly reveals all.
I loved "Mrs. Sen" for example. An American boy goes to the house of an Indian woman every day after school until his mother returns from work. Nothing seems very remarkable until one day Mrs. Sen looks up and asks if "I began to scream right now at the top of my lungs would someone come?" Suddenly we realize the despair and loneliness of a woman far from home, struggling to adapt, who longs for nothing more than a fresh fish to cook. And immediately after this outburst the young boy thinks of his own home, and Labor Day, and a party he and his mother did not attend. In a few quick sentences we realize that Mrs. Sen and Elliot's mother share similar fates, are equally isolated and alone. But in this sad story neither is redeemed.
Even more sad, in a very different way, is "A Real Durwan," the story of an irritable old woman in Calcutta who nevertheless becomes part of a community by her helpfulness, until a scapegoat is needed and she is expelled. How cruel human beings can be to the weak!
I also liked "This Blessed House", a wonderful story about the bewilderment of a man who has entered into an arranged marriage and starts discovering the woman who is his wife--we read a lot about such marriages from the woman's point of view, but what about the man's? It is only through the eyes of friends at a party that he sees his wife as she is and love begins to grow.
There's nothing dramatic about the plots here, no twists and turns and surprises. Just wonderful writing and powerful glimpses into the heart.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One worth more than Amazon sells it for!, March 4, 2000
By 
T.W.M. (S.F. Bay Area, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
Jhumpa Lahiri writes with such vision and clarity of prose, it seems the stories she writes could not have been written another way. The stories and characters are so alive that I felt I was no longer reading, but rather witnessing them...standing just a few steps away from the characters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good, I've already given away my copy to a friend!, April 13, 2002
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
I picked this up in Dubai and started reading one story.....just to pass the time in my hotel room.....and then I couldn't put it down until I'd finished the entire book.
I am not a big reader of short stories, prefering the longer journey of the novel. However, Ms. Lahiri is such a gifted writer I will gladly read anything she comes out with next.
The magic of this collection of stories is in how well drawn her characters are...she brings them to life, you understand their motivations, their choices, their story.....you don't feel as if they and you are simply being manipulated for the sake of a clever plot line the author wants to try out.
In fact, most of the stories are not exotic, outlandish, mawkish stories.....they are vignettes from everyday life. Observations of ordinary people whose ordinary lives become sweet and memorable under the careful scrutiny of the author. The lasting impression is a greater appreciation of our lives and the stories we live from day to day.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming, Revealing, Cultural Short Stories, April 8, 2004
This review is from: Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback)
There are eight heart-warming, revealing, personal human interest stories in this small volume which make it quite clear why Ms Jhumpa Lahiri received the Pulitzer Prize in literature. Her stories are vivid and colorful descriptions of human experiences and life situations. Some are light-hearted and humorous, others serious, some are everyday occurrences; all leave a deep impression on the reader who is a little wiser, kinder and more compassionate after having read them.
The reader will long remember the nights that the electricity went out in a neighborhood where Shoba (female) and Shukumar (male) lived. They became emotionally distant after the still born birth of their baby. On the first night, Shukumar prepared a traditional Indian dinner which the couple had not eaten for a long time, not since they grew apart due to the impact of this personal tragedy. Shoba started a little game, of revealing something to her husband that she said he never knew about her. He was expected to reciprocate. Shukumar began to have more intense feelings of love toward his wife after these revelations began. In fact, even after the electricity was fixed ... they continued their "candle light suppers" and "secret revelations". Shukumar was in for a big surprise one night when Shoba laid before him, one of her 'secret revelations'. Read the story to find out what he discovered ...
In another story, we are introduced to Mr. Pirzada, originally from a region of India, which later was partitioned to become Pakistan. He routinely visited an Indian family for dinner and to watch TV, particularly the news, to learn of developments in his homeland. He was a research botanist at a local university and lived in sparse surroundings. He left his wife and seven daughters in the region of India which broke out in war and afterwards became Pakistan. He won a research grant at a prestigious University in his specialty. During his visits to this family, he brought treats and candies for the little girl. The little girl was raised in the USA and primarily learned only US history. Much later, she discovered the reasons Mr. Pirzada visited and his strong affection for the little girl. She hoarded her treats in a secret box, and carefully doled them out to herself to make them last. The war had ended and Mr. Pirzada's research was competed. He returned to Pakistan and sent the Indian family a letter, explaining that all was well, his wife and daughters survived the war. Life was being built anew. It was only then the little girl realized the importance of these visits to Mr. Pirzada and to herself as well. Watching the news, learning about developments on the otherside of the globe reminded him of his wife and family. Providing the little girl treats had somehow connected him closer to his own little girls. There are other equally enchanting stories in this book which leave the reader filled with a warm glow. All the stories in the book reveal significant details about people's lives with sensitivity and compassion. Each is a slices of human life, which unravels deep emotions that are delicate threads which connect the person or people to their culture and to humanity as a whole. This is an excellent book and receives my highest recommendations. Erika Borsos (erikab93)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 273 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Interpreter of Maladies
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Paperback - June 1, 1999)
$14.95 $8.44
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.