(born July 11, 1967) is an American author known for her short stories, novels and essays in English, and, more recently, in Italian.
Her debut collection of short-stories Interpreter of Maladies
(1999) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
and the PEN/Hemingway Award
, and her first novel, The Namesake
(2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name
. Her second story collection Unaccustomed Earth
(2008) won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award
, while her second novel, The Lowland
(2013), was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize
and the National Book Award for Fiction
. In these works, Lahiri explored the Indian-immigrant experience in America. In 2011, Lahiri moved to Rome
, Italy and has since then published two books of essays, and in 2018, published her first novel in Italian called Dove mi trovo
and also compiled, edited and translated the Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories
which consists of 40 Italian short stories written by 40 different Italian writers. She has also translated some of her own writings and those of other authors from Italian into English.
Early and personal life
Lahiri was born in London
, the daughter of Indian immigrants from the Indian
state of West Bengal
. Her family moved to the United States when she was three;
Lahiri considers herself an American and has said, "I wasn't born here, but I might as well have been."
Lahiri grew up in Kingston
, Rhode Island
, where her father Amar Lahiri worked as a librarian at the University of Rhode Island
the protagonist in "The Third and Final Continent", the story which concludes Interpreter of Maladies
, is modeled after him.
Lahiri's mother wanted her children to grow up knowing their Bengali
heritage, and her family often visited relatives in Calcutta (now Kolkata
When Lahiri began kindergarten in Kingston, Rhode Island, her teacher decided to call her by her pet name
, Jhumpa, because it was easier to pronounce than her "proper name".
Lahiri recalled, "I always felt so embarrassed by my name.... You feel like you're causing someone pain just by being who you are."
Her ambivalence over her identity was the inspiration for the mixed feelings of Gogol, the protagonist of her novel The Namesake
, over his own unusual name.
In an editorial in Newsweek
, Lahiri claims that she has "felt intense pressure to be two things, loyal to the old world and fluent in the new." Much of her experiences growing up as a child were marked by these two sides tugging away at one other. When she became an adult, she found that she was able to be part of these two dimensions without the embarrassment and struggle that she had when she was a child.
Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School
and received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College of Columbia University
Lahiri then received multiple degrees from Boston University
: an M.A. in English, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. Her dissertation, completed in 1997, was entitled Accursed Palace: The Italian palazzo on the Jacobean stage (1603–1625)
Her principal advisers were William Carroll (English) and Hellmut Wohl (Art History). She took a fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center
, which lasted for the next two years (1997–1998). Lahiri has taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design
In 2001, Lahiri married Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who was then deputy editor of TIME
Latin America, and who is now senior editor of TIME
Latin America. Lahiri lives in Rome
with her husband and their two children, Octavio (born 2002) and Noor (b. 2005).
Lahiri joined the Princeton University faculty on July 1, 2015, as a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts.
Lahiri's early short stories faced rejection from publishers "for years".
Her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies
, was finally released in 1999. The stories address sensitive dilemmas in the lives of Indians or Indian immigrants, with themes such as marital difficulties, the bereavement over a stillborn child, and the disconnection between first and second generation United States immigrants. Lahiri later wrote, "When I first started writing I was not conscious that my subject was the Indian-American experience. What drew me to my craft was the desire to force the two worlds I occupied to mingle on the page as I was not brave enough, or mature enough, to allow in life."
The collection was praised by American critics, but received mixed reviews in India, where reviewers were alternately enthusiastic and upset Lahiri had "not paint[ed] Indians in a more positive light."Interpreter of Maladies
sold 600,000 copies and received the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
(only the seventh time a story collection had won the award).
In 2003, Lahiri published her first novel, The Namesake
The theme and plot of this story was influenced in part by a family story she heard growing up. Her father's cousin was involved in a train wreck and was only saved when the workers saw a beam of light reflected off of a watch he was wearing. Similarly, the protagonist's father in The Namesake
was rescued due to his peers recognizing the books that he read by Russian author Nikolai Gogol
. The father and his wife immigrated to the United States as young adults. After this life-changing experience, he named his son Gogol and his daughter Sonia. Together the two children grow up in a culture with different mannerisms and customs that clash with what their parents have taught them.
A film adaptation
of The Namesake
was released in March 2007, directed by Mira Nair
and starring Kal Penn
as Gogol and Bollywood stars Tabu
and Irrfan Khan
as his parents. Lahiri herself made a cameo as "Aunt Jhumpa".
Lahiri's second collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth
, was released on April 1, 2008. Upon its publication, Unaccustomed Earth
achieved the rare distinction of debuting at number 1 on The New York Times best seller list
. New York Times Book Review
editor, Dwight Garner
, stated, "It's hard to remember the last genuinely serious, well-written work of fiction—particularly a book of stories—that leapt straight to No. 1; it's a powerful demonstration of Lahiri's newfound commercial clout."
Lahiri has also had a distinguished relationship with The New Yorker
magazine in which she has published a number of her short stories, mostly fiction, and a few non-fiction including The Long Way Home; Cooking Lessons
, a story about the importance of food in Lahiri's relationship with her mother.
Since 2005, Lahiri has been a vice president of the PEN American Center
, an organization designed to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers.
Lahiri in 2013.
In December 2015, Lahiri published a non-fiction essay called "Teach Yourself Italian" in The New Yorker
about her experience learning Italian
In the essay she declared that she is now only writing in Italian, and the essay itself was translated from Italian to English. That same year, she published her first book in Italian, In altre parole
, in which she wrote her book about her experience learning the language; an English translation by Ann Goldstein
entitled In Other Words
was published in 2016.
Lahiri was judged as the winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2015 for her book The Lowland
(Vintage Books/ Random House, India) at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival for which she entered Limca Book of Records.
In 2017, Lahiri receives the Pen/Malamud award for excellence in the short story. The award was established by the family of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Bernard Malamud to honor excellence in the art of short fiction.
In 2018, Lahiri published the short story "The Boundary" in The New Yorker. The story explores the life of two families and the contrasting features between them.
In 2018, Lahiri published her first novel in Italian, Dove mi trovo
(2018). In 2019, she compiled, edited and translated the Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories
which consists of 40 Italian short stories written by 40 different Italian writers.
Lahiri's writing is characterized by her "plain" language and her characters, often Indian immigrants to America who must navigate between the cultural values of their homeland and their adopted home.
Lahiri's fiction is autobiographical
and frequently draws upon her own experiences as well as those of her parents, friends, acquaintances, and others in the Bengali
communities with which she is familiar. Lahiri examines her characters' struggles, anxieties, and biases to chronicle the nuances and details of immigrant psychology and behavior.
Until Unaccustomed Earth
, she focused mostly on first-generation Indian American immigrants
and their struggle to raise a family in a country very different from theirs. Her stories describe their efforts to keep their children acquainted with Indian culture and traditions
and to keep them close even after they have grown up in order to hang onto the Indian tradition of a joint family
, in which the parents, their children and the children's families live under the same roof.
departs from this earlier original ethos, as Lahiri's characters embark on new stages of development. These stories
scrutinize the fate of the second and third generations
. As succeeding generations become increasingly assimilated
into American culture and are comfortable in constructing perspectives outside of their country of origin, Lahiri's fiction shifts to the needs of the individual. She shows how later generations depart from the constraints of their immigrant parents, who are often devoted to their community and their responsibility to other immigrants.
Lahiri worked on the third season of the HBO television program In Treatment
. That season featured a character named Sunil, a widower who moves to the United States from India and struggles with grief and with culture shock. Although she is credited as a writer on these episodes, her role was more as a consultant on how a Bengali man might perceive Brooklyn.
- "A Temporary Matter" (previously published in The New Yorker)
- "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" (previously published in The Louisville Review)
- "Interpreter of Maladies" (previously published in the Agni Review)
- "A Real Durwan" (previously published in the Harvard Review)
- "Sexy" (previously published in The New Yorker)
- "Mrs. Sen's" (previously published in Salamander)
- "This Blessed House" (previously published in Epoch)
- "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" (previously published in Story Quarterly)
- "The Third and Final Continent"
- "Unaccustomed Earth"
- "Hell-Heaven" (previously published in The New Yorker)
- "A Choice of Accommodations"
- "Only Goodness"
- "Nobody's Business" (previously published in The New Yorker)
- "Once In A Lifetime" (previously published in The New Yorker)
- "Year's End" (previously published in The New Yorker)
- "Going Ashore"
Uncollected short fiction
- In altre parole (Italian) (2015) (English translation printed as In Other Words, 2016)
- Il vestito dei libri (Italian) (English translation as The Clothing of Books, 2016)
- The Magic Barrel: Stories (introduction) by Bernard Malamud, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, July 2003.
- "Cooking Lessons: The Long Way Home" (September 6, 2004, The New Yorker)
- Malgudi Days (introduction) by R.K. Narayan, Penguin Classics, August 2006.
- "Rhode Island" in State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey, Ecco, September 16, 2008
- "Improvisations: Rice" (November 23, 2009, The New Yorker)
- "Reflections: Notes from a Literary Apprenticeship" (June 13, 2011, The New Yorker)
- The Suspension of Time: Reflections on Simon Dinnerstein and The Fulbright Triptych edited by Daniel Slager, Milkweed Editions, June 14, 2011.
- "Teach Yourself Italian" (December 7, 2015, The New Yorker)
- Ties (2017), translation from Italian of Domenico Starnone's Lacci
- Trick (2018), translation from Italian of Domenico Starnone's Scherzetto
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- ^ a b Lahiri, Jhumpa. "My Two Lives", Newsweek, March 6, 2006. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
- ^ a b Wiltz, Teresa. "The Writer Who Began With a Hyphen: Jhumpa Lahiri, Between Two Cultures", The Washington Post, October 8, 2003. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
- ^ Farnsworth, Elizabeth. "Pulitzer Prize Winner-Fiction", PBS NewsHour, April 12, 2000. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
- ^ Austen, Benjamin (September–October 2003). "In The Shadow of Gogol". New Leader. 86: 31–32.
- ^ a b Garner, Dwight. "Jhumpa Lahiri, With a Bullet" The New York Times Paper Cuts blog, April 10, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-12.
- ^ "Barack Obama appoints Jhumpa Lahiri to arts committee", The Times of India, February 7, 2010
- ^ Masters, Tim (July 23, 2013). "Man Booker judges reveal 'most diverse' longlist". BBC. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
- ^ "BBC News - Man Booker Prize 2013: Toibin and Crace lead shortlist". BBC News. September 10, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
- ^ a b "2013 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
- ^ Lahiri, Jhumpa (November 29, 2015). "Teach Yourself Italian". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
- ^ Lahiri, Jhumpa (2017). In other words. Ann Goldstein. London. ISBN 978-1-4088-6613-9. OCLC 949821672.
- ^ "First Woman Winner of DSC Prize". Limca Book of Records. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
- ^ "Jhumpa Lahiri Receives 2017 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story". Lewis Center for the Arts. May 25, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- ^ Chotiner, Isaac. "Interviews: Jhumpa Lahiri", The Atlantic, March 18, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-12.
- ^ Lahiri, J.. Unaccustomed Earth.
- ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (November 11, 2010). "Therapy? Not His Cup of Tea". The New York Times.
- ^ Claire Armitstead (January 22, 2015). "Jhumpa Lahiri wins $50,000 DSC prize for south Asian literature". The Guardian. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
- ^ "President Obama to Award 2014 National Humanities Medal". National Endowment for the Humanities. September 3, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
- ^ "Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri". Penguin Random House. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
- Leyda, Julia (January 2011). "An interview with Jhumpa Lahiri". Contemporary Women's Writing. 5 (1): 66–83. doi:10.1093/cwwrit/vpq006.
- Bilbro, Jeffrey (2013). "Lahiri's Hawthornian Roots: Art and Tradition in "Hema and Kaushik"". Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. 54 (4): 380–394. doi:10.1080/00111619.2011.594461. S2CID 143938815.
- Majithia, Sheetal (Fall/Winter 2001). "Of Foreigners and Fetishes: A Reading of Recent South Asian American Fiction." Samar 14: 52–53 The South Asian American Generation.
- Mitra, Zinia . " An Interpretation of Interpreter of Maladies", Jhumpa Lahiri : Critical Perspectives. Ed. Nigamananda Das. Pencraft International, 2008.(ISBN 81-85753-87-3) pp 95–104.
- Roy, Pinaki. "Postmodern Diasporic Sensibility: Rereading Jhumpa Lahiri's Oeuvre". Indian English Fiction: Postmodern Literary Sensibility. Ed. Bite, V. New Delhi: Authors Press, 2012 (ISBN 978-81-7273-677-4). pp. 90–109.
- Roy, Pinaki. "Reading The Lowland: Its Highs and its Lows". Labyrinth (ISSN 0976-0814) 5(3), July 2014: 153–62.
- Reichardt, Dagmar. "Radicata a Roma: la svolta transculturale nella scrittura italofona nomade di Jhumpa Lahiri", in: I l pensiero letterario come fondamento di una testa ben fatta, edited by Marina Geat, Rome, Roma TRE Press, 2017 (ISBN 978-88-94885-05-7), pp. 219–247. 
- Reichardt, Dagmar. "Migrazione, discorsi minoritari, transculturalità: il caso di Jhumpa Lahiri", in: Scrivere tra le lingue. Migrazione, bilinguismo, plurilinguismo e poetiche della frontiera nell'Italia contemporanea (1980-2015), edited by Daniele Comberiati and Flaviano Pisanelli, Rome, Aracne, 2017 (ISBN 978-88-255-0287-9), pp. 77–92.
- Das, Subrata Kumar. "Bengali Diasporic Culture: A Study of the Film Adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake". The Criterion: An International Journal in English (ISSN 0976-8165) 4 (II), April 2013: np.
- Mitra,Zinia. "Echoes of Loneliness :Dislocation and Human Relationships in Jhumpa Lahiri", Contemporary Indian Women Writers in English:Critical Perspectives. Ed. Nizara Hazarika, K.M. Johnson and Gunjan Dey.Pencraft International.(ISBN 978-93-82178-12-5),2015.
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Last edited on 2 May 2021, at 10:20
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