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Interpreter of Maladies
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The rituals of traditional Indian domesticityÄcurry-making, hair-vermilioningÄboth buttress the characters of Lahiri's elegant first collection and mark the measure of these fragile people's dissolution. Frequently finding themselves in Cambridge, Mass., or similar but unnamed Eastern seaboard university towns, Lahiri's characters suffer on an intimate level the dislocation and disruption brought on by India's tumultuous political history. Displaced to the States by her husband's appointment as a professor of mathematics, Mrs. Sen (in the same-named story) leaves her expensive and extensive collection of saris folded neatly in the drawer. The two things that sustain her, as the little boy she looks after every afternoon notices, are aerograms from homeÄwritten by family members who so deeply misunderstand the nature of her life that they envy herÄand the fresh fish she buys to remind her of Calcutta. The arranged marriage of "This Blessed House" mismatches the conservative, self-conscious Sanjeev with ebullient, dramatic TwinkleÄa smoker and drinker who wears leopard-print high heels and takes joy in the plastic Christian paraphernalia she discovers in their new house. In "A Real Durwan," the middle-class occupants of a tenement in post-partition Calcutta tolerate the rantings of the stair-sweeper Boori Ma. Delusions of grandeur and lament for what she's lostÄ"such comforts you cannot even dream them"Ägive her an odd, Chekhovian charm but ultimately do not convince her bourgeois audience that she is a desirable fixture in their up-and-coming property. Lahiri's touch in these nine tales is delicate, but her observations remain damningly accurate, and her bittersweet stories are unhampered by nostalgia. Foreign rights sold in England, France and Germany; author tour. (June)

"India is an inescapable presence in this strong first collection's nine polished and resonant tales, most of which have appeared in The New Yorker and other publications." Kirkus Reviews
"Lahiri's touch is delicate yet assured, leaving no room for flubbed notes or forced epiphanies." The Los Angeles Times
"[Lahiri] announces herself as a wonderfully distinctive new voice. Indeed, Ms. Lahiri's prose is so eloquent and assured that the reader easily forgets the 'Interpreter of Maladies' is a young writer's first book...Ms. Lahiri chronicles her characters' lives with both objectivity and compassion while charting the emotional temperature of their lives with tactile precision. She is a writer of uncommon elegance and poise, and with 'Interpreter of Maldies' she has made a precocious debut." The New York Times
"Lahiri's touch in these nine tales is delicate, but her observations remain damningly accurate, and her bittersweet stories are unhampered by nostalgia..." Publishers Weekly
"[S]torytelling of surpassing kindness and skill." The San Francisco Chronicle
"[Lahiri] announces herself as a wonderfully distinctive new voice.
Indeed, Ms. Lahiri's prose is so eloquent and assured that the reader
easily forgets the 'Interpreter of Maladies' is a young writer's
first book...Ms. Lahiri chronicles her characters' lives with both
objectivity and compassion while charting the emotional temperature
of their lives with tactile precision. She is a writer of uncommon
elegance and poise, and with 'Interpreter of Maldies' she has made a
precocious debut."
"Lahiri's touch in these nine tales is delicate, but her observations
remain damningly accurate, and her bittersweet stories are unhampered
by nostalgia..."
"YLahiri announces herself as a wonderfully distinctive new voice.
Indeed, Ms. Lahiri's prose is so eloquent and assured that the reader
easily forgets the 'Interpreter of Maladies' is a young writer's
first book...Ms. Lahiri chronicles her characters' lives with both
objectivity and compassion while charting the emotional temperature
of their lives with tactile precision. She is a writer of uncommon
elegance and poise, and with 'Interpreter of Maldies' she has made a
precocious debut."

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