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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