Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: Interpreter of Maladies

This is a collection of nine stories. These are mostly about lives of Indians living abroad. I was impressed by two stories but was not excited by others the same way, so I will summarize what I liked.

A Temporary Matter’ is story of a couple in distress. Their child is born dead. Wife cannot come to terms with husband because he was not present at the sad moment. She has planned to go separate and is preparing the communication around it. Their apartment is served with a notice of power cut. In the darkness, the couple begins to talk again, and they share the secrets between them each night. At last, wife says she is prepared to leave and husband breaks open the secret of his presence at the sad time of their lives together and of holding their dead baby. Their relationship gets renewed.

Interpreter of Maladies’ is story of an Indian family living abroad, on a trip back in India for a vacation. They go on to visit the Konarak temple along with the assistance of a guide. The couple learns that their guide has another odd job of an interpreter between a doctor and patients. The guide generates interests in them and he too is drawn to Mrs. Das. And that lets her share a secret with the guide. For one of her children, her husband is not the biological parent but no one knows about it. She seeks Guide’s help with matter. Guide asks whether it is pain or guilt troubling her. But the circumstances bring the tour to an end and the secret remains a secret.


This is the debut work of Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri and won her Pulitzer Prize in the year 2000. Her others works are ‘The Namesake’, ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ and ‘The Lowland’ which was nominated for ‘Man Booker Prize’ during 2013.