Wednesday, February 23, 2005

On Interpretation

After living in Takoma Park for over a year, Angela and I finally got a chance to check out the local public library about a week ago. We figure we'll be spending a lot of time here in the years to come (what with, you know, the books and all) so it was high time to check it out. It's small, but so is this community. They've crammed a lot of stuff into a relatively small space and I, for one, was impressed.

I noticed a display case with several books by authors that I know and like (Rushdie, Chabon, Russo, etc.) and I had been meaning to pick up Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize winning short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies. I decided to make it my first check-out from the library.

And man, that woman can write. Her stories are so juicy with description and pathos, I'm just craving her stories. For the most part, she is writing about Indians in America and Indian-Americans, with all the implications of the distinctions of those terms left intact. On the one hand, these stories seem quite "universal" (whatever that means), and yet they give off the sense of Indianness beyond the mere mention of curry and an unusual name. Lahiri's prose does glide over such categorizations: she is simply a great storyteller. I really have to figure out how to get some of her stories into a class I'm teaching at some point.

Back to the snow watch -- any bets as to whether we'll actually get some in the morning? As the guy who has six errands to run tomorrow (three of which are interviewing pediatricians), I'm hoping for sunshine.

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