A blackout forces a young Indian American couple to make confessions that unravel their tattered domestic peace. An Indian-American girl recognizes her cultural identity during a Halloween celebration while the Pakastani civil war rages on television in the background. A latchkey kid with a single working mother finds affinity with a woman from Calcutta. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession.
Imbued with the sensual details of Indian culture, these stories speak with passion and wisdom to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner. Like the interpreter of the title story, Lahiri translates between the strict traditions of her ancestors and a baffling new world.
©2000 Jhumpa Lahiri; (P)2000 HighBridge Company
"Moving and authoritative pictures of culture shock and displaced identity." (Kirkus Reviews)
"The crystalline writing in the nine stories of this Pulitzer Prize-winning debut collection dazzles. These sensitive explorations of the lives of Indian immigrants and expatriates touch on universal themes, making them at once specific and broad in their appeal. Narrator Matilda Novak's light voice is fine for stories written by a young woman, and the hint of melody in her reading is typical of Indian voices." (AudioFile)
I bought this book after having read the Namesake, because I had enjoyed it so much. I was not disappointed. Each of the nine stories in this book offers a brief glimpse into the narrator's life. The stories offer no grandiose defining moments, but rather a very simple series of affecting moments, most of which center on an Indian protagonist. An American boy's relationship with his Indian nanny; a travel guide in India shares his imaginative subtext as he spends a day with an Indian-American family; etc. The narrator did a wonderful job on this project. I do wish there had been a bit longer break between stories...perhaps with a little music to aid in the transition. I also wish I could have smelled and tasted all of the food in this book! I realized, that during the two weeks I listened to this book, I'd been drawn to cook Indian food twice! (Quite out of the ordinary for me!)
The stories in this book were amazing. They gave such a beautiful view into the Indian culture. I longed to know the sense of community and comraderie that the author makes so integral a part of these stories. As the stories ended I was sad to end my relationship with the well-drawn and intriguing characters.
The reason I rated this audiobook only 3 stars was not the novel itself, but the narration and production of the audio. I found the narrator's style to be distracting and at times downright annoying. Short interludes of music separated the book into equal sections, but this distracted from the flow of the novel because they often came in the middle of a story and at times in the middle of a character conversation.
Dispite the poor quality of the audio production, I would recommend this novel for its wonderful characterizations and fascinating stories.
Since there are so many reviews of the book itself, I will review the narration of the audio version.
First, I was distracted by the narrator's style. Her odd, unnatural, and often nasal enunciation of words was annoying. The amaturish and undulating style of her reading the sentences made me wonder if the author picked a friend or family member who wanted to break into the business. This narrator has no business doing this work. Additionally, the narrator certainly did not capture the emotions of the characters.
Secondly, the producers decided to add music to signify the ending of one "chapter" and the beginning of antoher. However, the chapters in the audio version did not coincide with the stories in the book. The music breaks only served to separate the book in to 6 equal parts, which was in the middle of a story.
While the narrator did read at a decent pace, the up and down vocalizations, the inability to capture sentimental or sad emotions and her odd enunciations made this narration one to skip.
Presenting short stories on audio is always challenging. Either too long or too short a pause between 2 stories is awkward. In this case I'd say the producer got it just wrong. There are musical selections between sections of stories, and a rapid fire movement between stories. I could never tell where I was in a tale.
And what is the deal with lovely classical guitar music - in stories that are about Indian immigrants to the US... I can see Jazz, or classical (both have places in the short stories) but this music, while quite nice was just wrong.
This is probably a good book, but the reading in terrible. First off all the reading is very choppy, she cuts all sentences into little phrases, the phrases are read a bit too fast, with long pauses between them, its OK for about 5 minutes or so, then gets very annoying. But the worst is the reader's voice, it is so very, very, very prissy, and she sort of gushes with 'pleasedness' at the most random moments. She does this once in the sample, so listen carefully, because the sample is the lest prissy 5 minutes of the whole book. The style would probably be OK for a trashy romance novel, but this book has a dark side, and the reading style completely destroys this. Also as other reviewers have noted, the book is cut up into chapters, that don't align with the stories.
Don't get this as an audiobook.
It's fair to call Lahiri an American writer; therefore there's nothing wrong with having a non-South Asian American as a narrator. However, I do wish Ms. Novak had done a little more research about the pronunciation of Indian words (Dixit, Laxmi, Lucknow, etc.).
I guess I should have expected a collection of short stories to lack plots, but it made it hard to finish the entire collection. Lahiri has a wonderful way with words and she has great insight into the particulars of people's lives that are often overlooked, but I need a little more plot to each story to satisfy me.
I loved the stories, the languages and the narration. Only issue is the odd musical breaks and short intervals between the stories.
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