Sat, January 12th, 2008
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Jhumpa Lahiri will read from a new book of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, which will be published in 2008.
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.
Born in London, Lahiri moved to Rhode Island as a young child with her Bengali parents. Although they have lived in the United States for more than thirty years, Lahiri observes that her parents retain “a sense of emotional exile” and Lahiri herself grew up with “conflicting expectations…to be Indian by Indians and American by Americans.” Lahiri’s abilities to convey the oldest cultural conflicts in the most immediate fashion and to achieve the voices of many different characters are among the unique qualities that have captured the attention of a wide audience. Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake, expands on the perplexities of the immigrant experience and the search for identity. The narrative follows the Gangulis, an Indian couple united in an arranged marriage, as they build their lives together in America. Unlike her husband, Mrs. Ganguli defies assimilation, while their son, Gogol, burdened with the seemingly absurd name of the long-dead Russian writer, awkwardly struggles to define himself. A film version of The Namesake (directed by Mira Nair) will be released in 2007. Lahiri is currently working on a new book of short stories, entitled Unaccustomed Earth, which will be published in 2008.
Alongside the Pulitzer Prize, Jhumpa Lahiri also won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the O. Henry Award (for the short story “Interpreter of Maladies”), and the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among others. Lahiri was also granted a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and an NEA Fellowship in 2006.
Sponsored by the Lecture Committee.