In this literary essay, Ramlal Agarwal explores Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and notes how in her short stories, she steers clear of cultural confrontation.
Jhumpa Lahiri, born of Bengali parents in England and brought up in America, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for her debut collection of short stories “Interpreter of Maladies”, the New Yorker Prize for Best First Book, the “PEN/ Hemingway Award, a National Humanities Medal in 2015 and was shortlisted for Los Angeles Times Award and was hailed by reviewers across the board as a writer of uncommon elegance and poise.
The collection’s “piece de resistance” is its title story. The word the interpreter evokes the roles of philosophers, or doctors, psychologists or poets or critics, etc. However, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Mr. Kapasi is none of the above but a translator. He translates the maladies of Gujarati patients to a doctor who does not understand Gujarati. Moreover, he is also a Secondary school teacher besides being a tourist guide.