Jhumpa Lahiri

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Walking between two worlds – Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies

Tarun Kumar
(Research Scholar)

Immigration is a common phenomenon in the contemporary world. Travelling and adapting across cultures have turned into major issues and concerns of the contemporary globalizing environment . It’s impact is evident in the contemporary fiction as well. Whether it be diaspora writers of yester years or the present time, all of them feel the pangs of separation from their root and difficulty in adjusting in the new environment. A sense of loss and the struggle to survive in the new setting pervade their writings. Besides, a crisis of communication between the cultures is also evident. It is through literature that many of them try to come to terms with their immigrant condition. They try “to find a voice of their own by making the two worlds they are forced to live in coexist harmoniously within the very often traumatized self”.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of stories Interpreter of Maladies is the result of her “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” (Lahiri, “My Two Lives”). The stories, set across national, but also generation, or gender frontiers, contribute to the writer’s finally finding an identity of her own. She strives to reconcile her two selves as, “like many immigrant offspring, I felt intense pressure to be two things, loyal to the old world and fluent in the new, approved of on either side of the hyphen” (Lahiri, “My Two Lives”). Consequently, the collection may be interpreted as the writer’s journey into her new, even if not necessarily true, self.

Lahiri was born in London and spent rest of her life in United States of America, however she was born to Bengali Indian parents, which inevitably made her be looked at as an immigrant. So it seems that “Lahiri’s artistic intention is more specifically associated with her desire to move beyond the...
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