Literary Arts Series

Authors visit BCC

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri will be coming to speak at Bergen March 20, 2008 at 11:00 AM in the Ciccone Theatre.

Jhumpa Lahiri received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for Interpreter of Maladies, her debut story collection that explores issues of love and identity among immigrants and cultural transplants. With a compelling, universal fluency, Lahiri portrays the practical and emotional adversities of her diverse characters in elegant and direct prose. Whether describing hardships of a lonely Indian wife adapting to life in the United States or illuminating the secret pain of a young couple as they discuss their betrayals during a series of electrical blackouts, Lahiri’s bittersweet stories avoid sentimentality without abandoning compassion. Her novel The Namesake was published in the fall of 2003 also to great acclaim.

“Interpreter of Maladies” was conceived when Lahiri bumped into a friend who said he was interpreting for a doctor who had a number of Russian patients having difficulty describing their ailments in English. After hearing this comment Lahiri conceived “Interpreter of Maladies” as a collection of short stories. She knew from the beginning that this had to be the title story, because it best expresses, thematically, the predicament at the heart of the book—the dilemma, the difficulty, and often the impossibility of communicating emotional pain and affliction to others, as well as expressing it to ourselves. In some sense, Lahiri views this as the position of a writer, in so far as the writer attempts to articulate these emotions, they are a sort of interpreter as well.