Tuesday, July 13, 2004

interpreter of maladies

jhumpa lahiri's debut collection deserved the pulitzer prize it received. i finally read this book yesterday and was enchanted. usually i am not crazy about such spare prose, but the storytelling technique that lahiri employs to frame the dislocations attendant to transnationalism and globalization drew me into the fragmented worlds of her characters. i particularly enjoyed "a temporary matter," and was entranced by "the third and final continent," the ending of which made me cry. speaking of his american born son, the narrator, who has come to the US by way of the UK, says:

"In my son's eyes I see the ambition that had first hurled me across the world. In a few years he will graduate and pave hisway, alone and unprotected. But I remind myself that he has a father who is still living, a mother who is happy and strong. Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, there there is no obstacle he cannot conquer. While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in the new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."