Beyond Bestsellers: Jhumpa Lahiri

By Melleny T.

Since bursting onto the literary scene in 1999 with her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri has continued to write tales of all lengths featuring richly developed characters, complicated family relationships, and authentic portrayals of the immigrant experience.

Lahiri is well known for her depictions of South Indian Americans, especially first- and second-generation Bengali immigrants to the United States. However, her poignant and incisive stories also delve into universal themes, such as loss, family dynamics, and communication.

If you aren’t yet a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri, it won’t take long to catch up on her work. In addition to Interpreter of Maladies, she has published one other short story collection called Unaccustomed Earth, two highly praised novels, The Namesake and The Lowland, and the novella “Hell-Heaven.”

In recent years, Lahiri has been spending her time and considerable talents writing nonfiction and translating novels from Italian to English. If you miss her fiction and are wondering when (and if) she’ll get back to that mode, we’ve found some lyrical, incisive, and bittersweet novels and short story collections to fill the void.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

First off, let’s get to the one digital title that will be always available for the month.

If you enjoy reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s poignant tales of complex family relationships, the American immigrant experience, and the nature of womanhood, try Etaf Rum’s compelling debut novel, A Woman Is No Man. Rum artfully weaves together the experiences of three generations of Palestinian-American women as they struggle with the often-conflicting demands of culture, family, honor, and love.

If that’s not the one for you, try something from our curated list of Jhumpa Lahiri read-alikes.

 

As always, we’d love for you to share with us what you’re reading, whether it’s one of Lahiri’s own books or something similar. And list-making is encouraged!

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