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Monday, July 11, 2016

Recording, and wonderfully projecting


“I approach writing stories as a recorder. I think of my role as some kind of reporting device - recording and projecting.” Jhumpa Lahiri

Born on this date in 1967, Lahiri is an Indian-American author and creative writing professor (at Princeton).  After years of struggling to get even one story published, she finally broke through in 1999 and within a year had a collection that was worthy enough to not only be published – the startling Interpreter of Maladies – but to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  It is one of the few story “collections” ever so-honored.

Her first novel, The Namesake is equally wonderful.  To not only experience what it’s like to have a name that is “different” but also relates to someone famous, read this book.  It’s one of those books that you quietly curse under your breath as you realize it’s already 2 in the morning and you should be asleep.  And, if you don’t have time to read it, find the film (by the same name).  It’s a great adaptation. 
                      Lahiri, who is the first Indian-American to serve
 on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities,      
 keeps busy with both teaching and writing, turning out terrific short stories every few months.  Her most recent novel, The Lowland – is another “must read” for those who want to “know” the modern-day U.S. immigrant experience.  It was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction.

Although she didn’t grow up in India, she has learned much about it from her parents and says “It interests me to imagine characters shifting from one situation and one location to another for whatever the circumstances might be.”  And, she added, finding just the right words, to say what needs to be said.

“In fiction, plenty (of words) do the job of conveying information, rousing suspense, painting characters, enabling them to speak. But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil.






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