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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

'Writing sentences that breathe and shift about'


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

Lahiri, born on this date in 1967, struggled for years to get even one story published but when she finally broke through (in 1999) she had a Pulitzer Prize-winning collection.  Her startling Interpreter of Maladies is one of the few story “collections” ever so-honored.

Her first novel, The Namesake is equally wonderful.  To experience what it’s like to have a name that is “different” and at the same time 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.   
Lahiri is the first Indian-American to serve
on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities       and also keeps busy with teaching (at New York's Barnard College) and turning out terrific short stories every few months.  

Although she didn’t grow up in India, she learned 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."
Editor's Note:  Today marks the 4,000th posting of "A Writer's Moment."  On to 5,000!

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