Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jhumpa Lahiri at the Strand

She read from one of the linked stories from her newest collection of short stories Unaccustomed Earth for about half an hour. Interestingly, it was written in the first person to another character in the story. The prose was limpid and yet layered. For the next half an hour, she fielded questions from the audience, questions which ranged from her narrative techniques to her access to expatriate experience to her relations with her editor. Her answers did not follow any template, fortunately, but she felt her way to an answer to each question, sometimes admitting it was all a matter of instinct rather than any conscious process. As I had expected, about half of the audience looked Indian, and among them more women than men. She was, after all, writing them into being. She grew up on Rhodes Island, and then shuttered between Boston and New York. She was shorter than I had imagined from the glamorous photo in her book.

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