Jhumpa Lahiri biography

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Jhumpa Lahiri
Photo Credit: Marion Ettlinger

Jhumpa Lahiri

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

Jhumpa Lahiri Biography

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 Italy, Rome with her husband and two children and is a faculty member at Princeton University.



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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
In Other Words jacket The Lowland jacket Unaccustomed Earth jacket The Namesake jacket
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