How to pronounce Jhumpa Lahiri: JHOOM-paah L-hee-ree
Jhumpa Lahiri was born 1967 in London, England, and raised in Rhode Island.
She is a graduate of Barnard College, where she received a B.A. in English
literature, and of Boston University, where she received an M.A. in English,
M.A. in Creative Writing and M.A. in Comparative Studies in Literature and the
Arts, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She has taught creative writing at
Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Her debut collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It was translated into twenty-nine languages and became a bestseller both in the United States and abroad. In addition to the Pulitzer, it received the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New Yorker Debut of the Year award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Addison Metcalf Award, and a nomination for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Lahiri was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002.
The Namesake, published in September 2003, is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel. Her second collection, Unaccustomed Earth was published in 2008 and became an immediate New York Times #1 bestseller.
Since 2005, Lahiri has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center, an organization designed to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.
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A Conversation with Jhumpa Lahiri
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
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 ...
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