Interpreter of Immigrants

On this day, Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for her debut book Interpreter of Maladies- talk about announcing yourself on the big stage.
Jhumpa Lahiri; Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jhumpa Lahiri; Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jhumpa Lahiri has a knack for writing if you did not know. She is the voice for the Indian diaspora, mainly in the West. Her stories of traditional values in a very progressive environment as well as the disconnect from one's own country has synced in well with many of her readers.

She was born in London, to an immigrant family from West Bengal. Moving again at the age of 3 to the US. So her writing is mainly inspired by her own experiences as well as the experiences of her family members. Jhumpa herself was born in the US, but her parents were Indians living in the West for better prospects. The homesickness, the disconnect has all been portrayed beautifully through her own characters, many of which are modelled on real-life people.

Her debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies shot her to fame which would not only be a one-time thing. The Pulitzer Prize for fiction was her first award of many. Today was the day she won it in 1999. Although well-received by the Americans, the Indians were not very positive in their reaction and gave it mixed reviews- maybe they thought it was a misrepresentation. Imagine Jhumpa Lahiri in this day and age debuting with the short stories. Would she be subject to criticism and race-baiting? A thought to retrospect.

Cover of the book (Paperback); Source: Wikimedia

Interpreter of Maladies made debut after years of Jhumpa's writings being rejected by publishers. It was a collection of short stories about Indians and the Indian diaspora living in America. Their experiences and traditions clashing both within and outside in the 'New World'.

The Pulitzer Prize is given to American Authors in seven categories mainly concerning the portrayal of American life.

This success of a short story followed an even successful novel, The Namesake for which a film featuring Irfaan Khan was produced. The novel itself is similar to Interpreter of Maladies in ideas. More of her novels in the future would be awarded and nominated for various prestigious awards.

Recently, she has pursued Italian literature and has written essays and translated short stories given that she started living in Italy. A professor in creative writing at Princeton University since 2015, she is a woman who gave the world a glance at how Indians feel about the West.


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