4. The Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri

File:Interpreterofmaladiescover.jpgThis weekend I visited some of my old friends in St. Louis and it made me quite nostalgic. You see, I’m originally from Bosnia and St. Louis has the largest Bosnian population outside of Bosnia itself. For a few days it felt like I was at home in Bosnia. It was a weekend filled with traditional food, great music and best of all, old friends.  It was the perfect time for me to finish reading “The Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri because it is a book filled with nostalgia. This Pulitzer Prize winner is actually a collection of 9 short stories and not a novel. It is written by an Indian American author and it primarily concentrates on the lives of Indians and Indian Americans who a dealing with culture clashes and nostalgia towards their homeland. Most of the characters are caught in between two worlds.

To me it was a collection of short stories that I could easily relate to because I have experienced many of the little things that the characters in the book deal with. From the simply wish to once again eat that candy only made in your country to the big things like missing seeing your family and being able to see them only once in a while.

I’m not going to summarize all of the short stories in the collection but will say that the story by the same title as the book was my favorite. It is a story about Mr. and Mrs. Das who are an Indian American family visiting their country of birth. They have a tour guide they hire to take them around called Mr. Kapasi who is a big part of the story. He observes the couple and their interactions with their three children. His attention to detail is a big part of the story and what makes it enjoyable to me. He is a great listener in addition to being observant. By the middle of the story he starts to fall in love with Mrs. Das and she opens up to him and tells him she has cheated on her husband and that one of her sons in the result of that. The reason she tells him this is because of his profession. Mrs. Das hopes that because he is an interpreter he can interpret her feelings and tell her why she did this. However, he is very open about how he feels and tells her she should be ashamed of herself.  I won’t spoil the ending but this story is all about people interpret things and how we have a freedom to see things how we want to see them, not necessarily how they are. It is easily a book I would recommend others to read.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. booksandbuttons
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 19:07:16

    I, too, loved Interpreter of Maladies. I read it in September 2004, and rated it
    double stars in my book record—-high praise indeed. I also enjoyed The
    Namesake, but that didn’t rate any stars . . .I save stars for the very best.
    Thank you for reminding me about this good book.

    Reply

  2. rhapsodyinbooks
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 09:09:35

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today – I would have sent a personal email but I do not find contact info on your blog! From reading some of your posts I was fascinated to learn about the Bosnians in St. Louis! I had no idea! I don’t see where you are now but in the Midwest there are quite a few Bosnian restaurants (although I have to add that we just came from Tucson and there was even a Bosnian restaurant there!) We hit all of these because my husband is of Croatian heritage, and loves the food (such as chivapchichi and raznitzchi neither of which I am probably spelling right!). Anyway, I love what you say in your profile, i.e., “I believe that no two persons read the same book and that is what inspired me to start my book blog. I love sharing the insights I gain from books and hearing about what others think as well. It always amazes me how a piece of literature is perceived differently by each person that reads it.” So true! That’s probably the first thing they taught in library school and I remember what a revelation it was for me! Anyway, please feel free to drop by sometime with your email and tell me more about the many things missing from your profile! :–) Jill, Rhapsody in Books, nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

    Reply

    • juriss99
      Apr 30, 2013 @ 14:41:12

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. Yes, St. Louis is a fascinating place when it comes to its Bosnian population that is around 70,000 right now. I also find it very funny that every single person from the former Yugoslavia seems to have the same favorite food…cevapcici. That is exactly what we ate for lunch and dinner while visiting St. Louis from Wisconsin.

      Reply

  3. arhartley
    Jun 11, 2013 @ 16:50:05

    Hvala for the like on my blog about Bosnia–I was so excited when I checked your blog and realized that you’ve recently read “Interpreter of Maladies” and “The Hours,” which are two of my absolute favorite books! I read “Interpreter” in my senior year AP English course in high school, and the story about Mr. and Mrs. Das was definitely the one our class noticed the most–it’s the one I remember best to this day. My teacher also gave us some memorable advice to keep track of the characters: “B is for Bobby the bastard.”

    I also didn’t know that St. Louis has such a large Bosnian population! If I ever end up living in the Midwest and start craving cevapi, I’ll know where to go! I think cevapcici is the favorite food of not only everybody from the former Yugoslav, but everybody who visits/is exposed to the culture. I went to a Balkan restaurant with the team that’s going to Bosnia with me and some alumni from our school who had been to Bosnia on the same program in the past, and we all got cevapi–it was great.

    Reply

  4. booklovers1
    Jun 24, 2013 @ 03:55:40

    It’s cool to see someone who has read the book and is not currently studying it- like I am. Yes- it certainly has a wide variety of circumstances we are able to relate to. I hope that I too will also enjoy it 🙂

    Reply

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