Jhumpa Lahiri (Nilanjana Sudeshna; Bengali: ঝুম্পা লাহিড়ী; born London, England, July 11, 1967) is an Indian American author. Lahiri’s debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name. Her parents actually named her Nilanjana Sudeshna, which she says are both “good names”, but she goes by her nickname (or in Bengali, her “Daak naam”) Jhumpa.
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. Her 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 is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Major Awards and Honors
Pulitzer Prize (USA)
- 2000: Fiction – “Interpreter of Maladies”
PEN/Hemingway Award (USA)
- 2000: Best First Book of Fiction – “Interpreter of Maladies”
O. Henry Award for Short Fiction
- 1999: First Prize – “Interpreter of Maladies” (published in Agni, No. 47)
Asian American Literary Award
- 2009: – “Unaccustomed Earth”
American Academy of Arts and Letters
- 2000: Addison Metcalf Award
- 2002: Fellowship
Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award (Ireland)
- 2008: – “Unaccustomed Earth”
- The Namesake (2003)
- The Lowland (2013)
- Dove mi trovo (2018)
- Interpreter of Maladies (1999)
- Unaccustomed Earth (2008)
- Brotherly Love (2013)
– Stand-alone short story.
- The Boundary (2018)
– Stand-alone short story.
- Casting Shadows (2021)
Stand-alone short story.
- Introduction to Bernard Malamud: The Magic Barrel: Stories (2003)
- Cooking Lessons: The Long Way Home (2004)
–In: The New Yorker, September 6, 2004.
- Introduction to R.K. Narayan: Maigudi Days (2006)
- Rhode Island (2008)
– In: State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America; editors: Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey.
- Improvisations: Rice (2009)
– In: The New Yorker, November 23, 2009.
- Reflections: Notes from a Literary Apprenticeship (2011)
– In: The New Yorker, June 13, 2011)
- The Suspension of Time: Reflections on Simon Dinnerstein and the Fulbright Tryptich (2011)
- In altre parole (2015)
(In Other Words)
- Il vestito dei libri (2015)
(The Clothing of Books)
- Teach Yorself Italian (2015)
In: The New Yorker, December 7, 2015.
- Domenico Starnone: Ties (2017)
- Domenico Starnone: Trick (2018)
A Selection of Quotes
“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
“Though no longer pregnant, she continues, at times, to mix Rice Krispies and peanuts and onions in a bowl. For being a foreigner Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy – a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been an ordinary life, only to discover that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like pregnancy, being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity of from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect.”
“Somehow, bad news, however ridden with static, however filled with echoes, always manages to be conveyed.”
Find more quotes by Jhumpa Lahiri on Goodreads.
- Jhumpa Lahiri’s Penguin Random House author page
- Jhumpa Lahiri at Britannica.com
- Jhumpa Lahiri at The Guardian (overview)
- Jhumpa Lahiri: ‘I’ve always existed in a kind of linguistic exile’ (The Guardian, May 1, 2021)
- Literary Hub interview (August 31, 2017)
- Reviews and blog posts related to Jhumpa Lahiri on this blog, Lioness at Large