IMPACT: JHUMPA LAHIRI RESISTS THE TERM “IMMIGRANT FICTION.” “What do we call the rest?” she asked in the New York Times. “Native fiction? Puritan fiction?” Still, the author, born in London of Indian descent and raised in Rhode Island, writes elegantly about the challenges faced by immigrants: the tension between traditions and new cultures, between alienation and familiarity. In the process, she raises concerns that all people can relate to, and reminds readers of humanity’s connections. Her debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000, and her first novel, The Namesake, was made into a 2007 film. Her latest novel, The Lowland, takes place in India and the U.S., spanning generations, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award in 2013. Its international reach is reflected in Lahiri’s own life. Bengali was her first language, she studied Latin for years and, drawn to Italian, she taught herself the language as an adult. In a 2015 story in the New Yorker, she noted that, despite the fact she lives in Brooklyn, she now writes primarily in Italian.
Photo by Marco Delogu