12 July 2011
The Life and Motivation of Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri was born on 1967 in London, UK. Her parents were Indian-Bengalis. Lahiri grew up in Rhode Island, USA and she considers herself to be an American. Lahiri is a very educated woman with multiple degrees in English, including a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She did a two-year fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center. Lahiri lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who used to be a Deputy Editor of a Latin American magazine called Time and who now is an Executive Editor for El Diario/La Prensa, New York’s largest Spanish newspaper. Lahiri and Vourvoulias-Bush have two children, Octavio and Noor (Wcislo, Katherine).
Jhumpa Lahiri has written a novel, The Namesake, after her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. She has also written her second collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, which debuted in the Number one slot in The New York Times best seller list. Lahiri’s story, “Trading Stories,” also have been published by The New Yorker magazine. Lahiri has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center, an organization designed to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers, she has been the Vice President since 2005. In
2010, Lahiri was appointed a member of President Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, along with five others. Lahiri has been influenced by her own lifestyle, being raised by immigrant parents; people around her and by other authors whose books she has read throughout her life. Each influence has been portrayed in one way or another throughout her works.
Jhumpa Lahiri grew up in a household were books were commonly found but in no interest to her. As she says “my house was not devoid of things to read, but the offerings felt scant, and were of little interest to me.” Lahiri said she didn’t own a book till she was “five or six” (78 Trading Stories).
In an Interview (Reader's Guide), Lahiri says when she was at the age of seven she started writing and it formed the basis of her friendship. She used to write stories with her closest friend during recess in elementary school. This set an example and at times they had a group of four of five kids working on a book with them. Jhumpa Lahiri hoped it rained so they could stay indoors and write instead of having to run around the playground. In her adolescence years, she had stopped writing fiction, but she wrote for her school newspaper. In college, Lahiri took a few workshops but she said she had no confidence in herself as a fiction writer. Since she had no confidence she decided to become “an academic” and she applied to several graduate English programs; but that didn’t workout for her because she was denied from the programs. Lahiri then got a job as a research assistant at a nonprofit institution in Cambridge and she had her own desk and computer to work on. This is when she started to write fiction again, but more
seriously this time (Reader's Guide). Lahiri says in “Trading Stories” when she started to write again it was no longer to connect with her peers, but to connect with her parents (82).
Lahiri says she had enough material to apply to the creative writing program at Boston University and once that ended she went to graduate school and got her Ph.D. in the process. Lahiri noticed she didn’t want to be a scholar anymore, so she kept writing stories and she had the chance to publish a few. Lahiri was later accepted to the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown and she said she has “been extremely lucky” because she feels it was a “miracle” that she had a chance to get “an agent, [sell] a book and [have] a story published in The New Yorker.” This is like a dream...