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Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Normally, I really avoid short story collections like the plague. They're really not my thing. For me, just when you get to know the characters and become invested in them--it's all over and they're dead to you. And I hate that. But this one was picked by my new bookclub, it won the Pulitzer, and my SIL loves the author, so I went in with high hopes. And they totally were rewarded.

The first story was very depressing. And the second story was mildly depressing. Which had me worried for the whole book. I wouldn't say it was depressing overall, but it sure wasn't cheery. Obviously, stories will vary in tone and I did like it, but it's not a collection of happy stories.

A quote on the back of the book described it as a collection of stories about immigrants but at least two stories are not that. Someone at bookclub posited that it had the theme throughout of outsiders, but that didn't work either. Every theme beyond, "all these people have some relationship to India," fell apart in one or two stories, but I don't think a story collection is required to have a pervasive theme.

Regardless, the writing was stunning, the characters were super real and three-dimensional and easy to connect with, and the stories were just great. I really, really do wish that a couple of them at least were full-length novels instead, and so I'm going to check out a novel of hers at some point. But for a short story collection, this was spectacular.

I checked this book out of the library.

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