- Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
- Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
- Published: April 2009
- ISBN-10: 0307278255
- ISBN-13: 9780307278258
- Format: Paperback
- Copyright: 2008
- Subject: FICTION / Short Stories (single author)
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Lahiri's debut collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, among other honors. This latest collection of short stories is both the recipient of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and a NY Times Book Review Best Book of the Year citation. In these eight consummate pieces, Lahiri delves into the souls of indelible characters struggling with displacement, guilt and fear as they try to find a balance between the solace and suffocation of tradition and the terror & excitement of the future into which they're being thrust. 333p.
Lahiri (The Namesake, 2003, etc.) extends her mastery of the short-story format in a collection that has a novel's thematic cohesion, narrative momentum and depth of character.The London-born, American-raised author of Indian descent returns with some of her most compelling fiction to date. Each of these eight stories, most on the longish side, a few previously published in magazines, concerns the assimilation of Bengali characters into American society. The parents feel a tension between the culture they've left behind (though to which they frequently return) and the adopted homeland where they always feel at least a little foreign. Their offspring, who are generally the protagonists of these stories, are typically more Americanized, adopting a value system that would scandalize their parents, who are usually oblivious to the college lives their sons and daughters lead. Ambition and accomplishment are givens in these families, where it's understood that nothing less than attending a top-flight school and entering an honored profession (medicine, law, academics) will satisfy. The stunning title story presents something of a role reversal, as a Bengali daughter and her American husband must come to terms with the secrets harbored by her father. The story expresses as much about love, loss and the family ties that stretch across continents and generations through what it doesn't say, and through what is left unaddressed by the characters. Even "Only Goodness," the most heavy-handed piece in the collection, which concerns a character's guilt over her brother's alcoholism, sustains the reader's interest until the last page. The final three stories trace the lives of two characters, Hema and Kaushik, from their teen years through their 30s, when fate (or chance) reunites them. An eye for detail, ear for dialogue and command of family dynamics distinguish this uncommonly rich collection.Agent: Eric Simonoff/Janklow & Nesbit Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
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