Some Kind of Remedy

Gabriele Annan

  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Flamingo, 198 pp, £6.99, June 2000, ISBN 0 00 655179 3

Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book is a collection of short stories. It has already won several prizes: the Pulitzer 2000 for fiction, the New Yorker for best first book and the PEN/Hemingway award. Praise from Amy Tan is quoted on the cover, as it was on the cover of Gish Jen’s Who’s lrish? Tan and Jen both write about first and second-generation Chinese Americans, and are upbeat on the whole, sometimes relentlessly so. With a few exceptions Lahiri’s characters are Indians in America, most of whom are temporary residents or, in some cases, first-generation Americans. Lahiri is funny and sharp and ironical, but kind too, and the undertow in her stories is melancholy – which makes her more endearing. She writes a lot about disappointment: not so much with America – though that occasionally figures – as with people.

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