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Jhumpa Lahiri biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

Jhumpa Lahiri
Photo Credit: Marion Ettlinger

Jhumpa Lahiri

How to pronounce Jhumpa Lahiri: JHOOM-paah L-hee-ree

Jhumpa Lahiri Biography

Jhumpa Lahiri, a bilingual writer and translator, is the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Barnard College (Columbia University). She received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for Interpreter of Maladies, her debut story collection. She is also the author of The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland, which was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award in fiction. Since 2015, Lahiri has been writing fiction, essays, and poetry in Italian: In Altre Parole (In Other Words), Il Vestito dei libri (The Clothing of Books), Dove mi trovo (self-translated as Whereabouts), Il quaderno di Nerina, and Racconti romani. She has translated three novels by Domenico Starnone and is the editor of The Penguin Classics Book of Italian Short Stories, which was published in Italy as Racconti Italiani. Lahiri received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2014, and in 2019 she was named Commendatore of the Italian Republic by President Sergio Mattarella. Her most recent book in English is a collection of essays entitled Translating Myself and Others, published in Spring 2022 by Princeton University Press.



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Interview

Jhumpa Lahiri discusses the cultural conflicts of growing up in America as the child of immigrants and how the experience of writing her first novel differed from writing the short stories in the Pulitzer prize-winning Interpreter of Maladies.

In your first book, Interpreter of Maladies, some of the stories are set in India, others in the United States. The Namesake is set predominantly in the United States. Can you talk a bit about the significance of setting in your work?
When I began writing fiction seriously, my first attempts were, for some reason, always set in Calcutta, which is a city I know quite well as a result of repeated visits with my family, sometimes for several months at a time. These trips, to a vast, unruly, fascinating city so different from the small New England town where I was raised, shaped my perceptions of the world and of people from a very early age. I went to Calcutta neither as a tourist nor as a former resident -- a valuable position, I think, for a writer.

The reason my first stories were set in Calcutta is due partly to that perspective -- that necessary combination of distance and intimacy with a place. Eventually I started to set my stories in America, and as a result the majority of stories in Interpreter of Maladies have an American setting. Still, though I've never lived anywhere but America, India continues to form part of my fictional landscape. As most of my characters have an Indian background, India ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Jhumpa Lahiri at BookBrowse
Roman Stories jacket Translating Myself and Others jacket Whereabouts jacket In Other Words jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Jhumpa Lahiri but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose read-alikes

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She is from Abba, in Anambra State, but grew up in the university town of Nsukka where she attended primary and secondary schools and briefly studied Medicine and ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Unaccustomed Earth

    Try:
    The Thing Around Your Neck
    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  • Aamina Ahmad

    Aamina Ahmad

    Aamina Ahmad, a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, has received a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Writer's Award. Her short fiction has appeared in One Story, The Southern ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Lowland

    Try:
    The Return of Faraz Ali
    by Aamina Ahmad

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