Jhumpa Lahiri is a prominent American author who is acknowledged for her genre of writing in short stories, novels, and essays in English and Italian. In her literary works, Lahiri explored and narrated her personal experiences as an Indian immigrant in America. Lahiri, in her writings, uses simple language with ordinary characters. Her focus of writing has been related to the Indian immigrants to America, who struggle between the cultural and ritual values of their original homeland and their adopted country. Lahiri, in her scripts, often pressed her own experiences along with her parents and friends. She considered the Bengali communities of India in almost her every script. Her fictions are autobiographical. In her writings, she absorbed the struggles, biases, and anxieties encountered by the characters of her stories along with the psychological behaviour of the immigrants. Her stories connected the endeavours made by the immigrant parents to keep their children familiar with the Indian culture, rituals, and traditions.
Jhumpa” Lahiri was born as Nilanjana Sudeshna on Sunday, 11 July 1967 (age 54years; as of 2021) in London, England, and raised in Rhode Island, United States. US Today 30 Her Zodiac sign is Cancer. She is a graduate of Barnard College and earned a B.A. in English literature. She is also a graduate of Boston University, where she received an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Studies in Literature, and the Arts, and a PhD in Renaissance Studies. She taught creative writing at the Rhode Island School of Design and Boston University. Pulitzer In 1997, Jhumpa completed her dissertation, titled ‘Accursed Palace: The Italian palazzo on the Jacobean stage (1603–1625).’ World Cat At Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center, she earned a fellowship of two years from 1997 to 1998. Cape Code Times
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Brown
Parents & Siblings
Lahiri is the daughter of Indian immigrants from the Indian state of West Bengal. However, she was born in London, England. When Lahiri was three, her family moved to the United States of America and left England. She once said in an interview, “I wasn’t born here, but I might as well have been,” and she considered herself as an American. US Today 30 At the University of Rhode Island, her father, Amar Lahiri, worked as a librarian. The story of the novel, Interpreter of Maladies, which was written by Lahiri, was concluded and modelled after her father as a leading character in “The Third and Final Continent” of the content. Her mother’s name is Tia Lahiri, who is a teacher. Her mother grew up her children according to the Bengali heritage by often visiting their relatives in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Jhumpa has a sister named Simanti Lahiri.
Husband & Children
Lahiri is married to Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, who is a journalist, and he was then deputy editor of TIME Latin America. Later, he was promoted as the senior editor of TIME Latin America. They got married on Monday, 15 January 2001, at Singhi Palace, Gariahat, West Bengal. Jhumpa Lahiri was dating Alberto for two years before getting married to him.
The couple has two children named Octavio (born 2002) and Noor (born 2005). In 2012, Lahiri moved to Rome with her husband and their two children.
In an interview in 2017, Lahiri stated that her parents were not religious and even they did not preach her any religious education; however, her parents taught her to respect and read great authors including Rabindra Nath Tagore. She said,
My parents aren’t religious people, so they didn’t give us a religious education, but they certainly taught us to respect the great minds and the great visionaries, and Tagore is one of those, right? And the fact that he happens to be Bengali and won the Nobel Prize, well, details.”
In 1999, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Hemingway Award for her short stories- Interpreter of Maladies. It was her debut collection of short stories. In 2003, her first novel, ‘The Namesake,’ and its story was adapted for filming a movie with the same name, which was a 2006 English language drama film directed by Indian director Mira Nair and was articulated and written by Sooni Taraporevala. In 2008, Lahiri’s second short story collection ‘Unaccustomed Earth,’ won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. In 2013, her second novel, The Lowland, was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. Lahiri moved to Rome, Italy, in 2011, and two books of essays were published by her since then. In 2018, She published her first novel in Italian and named it ‘Dove mi Trovo.’ In Italy, she compiled, edited, and translated 40 Italian Short Stories written by 40 different Italian writers under Penguin Book, a British publishing house. Apparently, some of her own writings and those of other authors were also translated by her from Italian into English. Since 2015, Lahiri has been working as a professor of creative writing at the University of Princeton in the Lewis Center for the Arts. Arts Princeton
“Interpreter of Maladies”
In 1999, marking her writing debut, Lahiri’s short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, was released. These short stories were written while focusing on the lives of Indian Immigrants in the United States of America and including the issues related to marital difficulties, the disconnection between first and second-generation immigrants, and the deprivation of a stillborn child. Interpreter of Maladies won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which was only the seventh time a story collection had won the award and sold nearly 600,000 copies after its launch.
In 2003, Lahiri published her first novel, The Namesake. In 2006, a film was made based on this novel’s story that starred Kal Penn as Gogol and Bollywood star Tabu and Irrfan Khan as his parents and named the movie with the same title. “Aunt Jhumpa,” was the cameo character played by Lahiri herself in this movie.
In April 2008, Unaccustomed Earth was released, which was the second collection of short stories by Lahiri. Her novel, Unaccustomed Earth, was on the number one on The New York Times bestseller list upon its publication that was the rare debuting distinction. The New York Times On this achievement of her novel, Dwight Garner, the New York Times Book Review editor said that,
It’s hard to remember the last genuinely serious, well-written work of fiction—particularly a book of stories—that leaped straight to No. 1; it’s a powerful demonstration of Lahiri’s newfound commercial clout.”
The stories in the ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ focussed on the new stages of development among second and third generations. Lahiri’s fiction articulated the needs of an individual while the succeeding generations influenced themselves in the American culture rapidly. The focus of the stories pointed that the succeeding generations are at ease and comfortable in establishing viewpoints outside of their country of origin. In her short stories, she emphasized the role of immigrant parents who often choose their original community rituals to raise their later generations in foreign countries. Later, Lahiri worked with The New Yorker magazine, and she published a number of her short stories which were mostly fiction. Soon, some of her non-fiction stories including The Long Way Home; Cooking Lessons were published in The New Yorker magazine. Lahiri has been a vice president of the PEN American Center since 2005, and in 2010, she was appointed as a member of the PEN American Center and its Arts and Humanities Committee.
In 2008, she discussed her book Unaccustomed Earth in a video interview.
Lahiri’s novel, The Lowland, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in September 2013. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton also considered this novel. In the month of October, The Lowland was listed for the National Book Award for Fiction. On 16 October 2013, The Lowland went to the final round. However, on 20 November 2013, James McBride, and his novel ‘The Good Lord Bird’ won this award. National Book In 2015, at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, Lahiri was considered the winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for her book, The Lowland, and soon, she was named in the Limca Book of Records.
“Teach Yourself Italian”
Lahiri released a non-fiction essay in December 2015 named “Teach Yourself Italian.” The essay was related to her own personal experiences in learning Italian. Later, this essay was translated from Italian to English, which she declared that she was writing in Italian only. Around the same year, the book ‘In Altre parole,’ was published by her in Italian. In 2016, its English translation was released by Ann Goldstein and titled it “In Other Words.” World Cat
“The Boundary” in The New Yorker
The short story “The Boundary” was published by Lahiri in 2018. This story narrated the lives and contrasting features of two families.
“Dove mi Trovo”
Her first novel in Italian was published by her in 2018, titled Dove mi Trovo.
She published the novel The Namesake in 2003, The Lowland in 2013, Dove mi Trovo (in Italian), Milan: Guanda in 2018, and the Whereabouts, New York in 2021.
Interpreter of Maladies (1999)
- “A Temporary Matter” (previously published in The New Yorker)
- “When Mr Pirzada Came to Dine” (previously published in The Louisville Review)
- “Interpreter of Maladies” (previously published in the Agni Review)
- “A Real Durwan” (previously published in the Harvard Review)
- “Sexy” (previously published in The New Yorker)
- “Mrs Sen’s” (previously published in Salamander)
- “This Blessed House” (previously published in Epoch)
- “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar” (previously published in Story Quarterly)
- “The Third and Final Continent”
Unaccustomed Earth (2008)
- “Unaccustomed Earth” “Hell-Heaven” (previously published in The New Yorker)
- “A Choice of Accommodations”
- “Only Goodness”
- “Nobody’s Business” (previously published in The New Yorker)
- “Once In A Lifetime” (previously published in The New Yorker)
- “Year’s End” (previously published in The New Yorker) “Going Ashore”
- Brotherly love 2013 Lahiri, Jhumpa (June 10–17, 2013), “Brotherly love.” The New Yorker.
- The Boundary 2018 Lahiri, Jhumpa (January-29-2018), “The Boundary.” The New Yorker.
- Casting Shadows 2021 Lahiri, Jhumpa (February-8-2021), “Casting Shadows.” The New Yorker.
- In Altre Parole (Italian) (2015) (English translation printed as In Other Words, 2016).
- Il vestito dei libri (Italian) (English translation as The Clothing of Books, 2016).
- The Magic Barrel: Stories (introduction) by Bernard Malamud, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, July 2003.
- “Cooking Lessons: The Long Way Home” (September 6, 2004, The New Yorker) Malgudi Days (introduction) by R.K. Narayan, Penguin Classics, August 2006.
- “Rhode Island” in State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey, Ecco, September 16, 2008
- “Improvisations: Rice” (November 23, 2009, The New Yorker) “Reflections: Notes from a Literary Apprenticeship” (June 13, 2011, The New Yorker)
- The Suspension of Time: Reflections on Simon Dinnerstein and The Fulbright Triptych edited by Daniel Slager, Milkweed Editions, June 14, 2011.
- “Teach Yourself Italian” (December 7, 2015, The New Yorker)
- Translations Ties (2017), translation from Italian of Domenico Starnone’s Lacci.
- Trick (2018), translation from Italian of Domenico Starnone’s Scherzetto.
In 2008, an HBO television program, In Treatment, presented a character named Sunil, a widower who moves to the United States of America from India and struggles with culture shock and grief. Lahiri worked in its third season in 2009. She participated as a writing consultant in these episodes.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- 1993: TransAtlantic Award from the Henfield Foundation
- 1999: O. Henry Award for the short story “Interpreter of Maladies”
- 1999: PEN/Hemingway Award (Best Fiction Debut of the Year) for “Interpreter of Maladies”
- 1999: “Interpreter of Maladies” selected as one of Best American Short Stories
- 2000: Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
- 2000: “The Third and Final Continent” selected as one of Best American Short Stories
- 2000: The New Yorker’s Best Debut of the Year for “Interpreter of Maladies”
- 2000: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut “Interpreter of Maladies”
- 2000: James Beard Foundation’s M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for “Indian Takeout” in Food & Wine Magazine
- 2002: Guggenheim Fellowship
- 2002: “Nobody’s Business” selected as one of Best American Short Stories
- 2008: Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for “Unaccustomed Earth”
- 2009: Asian American Literary Award for “Unaccustomed Earth”
- 2009: Premio Gregor von Rezzori for foreign fiction translated into Italian for “Unaccustomed Earth” (“Una Nuova terra”), translated by Federica Oddera (Guanda)
- 2014: DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for The Lowland
- 2014: National Humanities Medal
- 2017: Pen/Malamud Award
- She also goes by the name Nilanjana Sudeshna. US Today 30
- In 1970, Lahiri and her parents moved to America when she was three years old, and she started attending kindergarten in Kingston, Rhode Island, where her teacher named her, Jhumpa because it was easier to pronounce than her proper name, “Nilanjana Sudeshna.”
- In 1977, during her school days, Jhumpa Lahiri was on a Girl Scout Troop 850 that promoted sales of postcards for the local historic jail in the United States.
- In an interview in an editorial in Newsweek, in 2013, Lahiri recalled that her name was an embarrassing thing to her. She stated that when she became an adult she realized that she was able to live with these two dimensions of her name without embarrassment and struggle. She said,
I always felt so embarrassed by my name… You feel like you’re causing someone pain just by being who you are.”
- For years, Lahiri faced rejections from publishers for her early short stories. PIF Magazine
- In 2000, Lahiri received the history of the Pulitzer Prizes, and she became the youngest recipient of this prize in writing fiction.
- In an interview in 2003, Lahiri was asked about the food habits and variety of food she liked to prepare and eat. She replied that she adored eating all kinds of food as she came from a very food-oriented family. She further stated that food was a very deep part of everyone’s life, and it had incredible meaning in the daily chores of life. She stated,
I like cooking and eating all different kinds of food,” Lahiri says. “And I come from a very food-oriented family. Like most children of immigrants, I’m aware of how important food becomes for foreigners who are trying to deal with life in a new world. Food is a very deep part of people’s lives and it has incredible meaning beyond the obvious nutritional aspects. My parents have given up so many basic things coming here from the life they once knew – family, love, connections – and food is one thing that they’ve really held onto.”
- In 2004, Jhumpa Lahiri received Barnard’s Young Alumna Award for her extraordinary achievement in her field of interest.
- In 2006, Lahiri wrote in The News week, that she was living the two lives. She said,
When I first started writing I was not conscious that my subject was the Indian-American experience. What drew me to my craft was the desire to force the two worlds I occupied to mingle on the page as I was not brave enough, or mature enough, to allow in life.”
- In 2006, in an interview, Lahiri was asked which author and book had been mostly influenced her in development as a writer. Then she said that she studied the stories of James Joyce, Anton Chekhov, Flannery O’Conner, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the beginning. She revealed that she was grateful to the writers including William Trevor and Mavis Gallant. She said,
When I first began writing seriously I studied stories by James Joyce, Anton Chekhov, Flannery O’Conner, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Vladimir Nabokov and Virginia Woolf were also important at that stage. I am eternally indebted to two living writers, William Trevor and Mavis Gallant. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Thomas Hardy and am completely under his spell.”
- In 2010, the jewellery designer, Waris Ahluwalia, a Sikh American designer and actor based in New York City, and Jhumpa Lahiri were spotted together on the Vuitton’s festival of lights in New York.
- In 2010, in an interview, Lahiri was asked that what motivated her to study literature during her college days and which books were important to her in those years. She then replied,
I knew in high school that I wanted to study literature. English was always my favorite class, and I enjoyed writing essays –not so much fiction –but I enjoyed writing and working with words. But in college, I became interested in a lot of earlier literature. I read a lot of Chaucer and Spenser and Shakespeare. I think I had to write two big papers during my senior year: one was on The Faerie Queen and one was on The Canterbury Tales.”
- In 2013, Lahiri gave a video interview about writing, and how she worked on her book, The Lowland, and her journey towards the Man Booker-shortlisted novel.
- In 2014, Jhumpa Lahiri attended the 71st Film Festival Opening Ceremony in Venice, Italy.
- In 2014, Lahiri was awarded for her exemplary and exceptional writings by the former US President, Barack Obama, at the White House with the 2014 National Medals of Arts and Humanities. Later, US President Barack Obama appointed her as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
- In 2017, Jhumpa Lahiri described her book writing process and expedition in a video interview.
- In an interview in 2017, Jhumpa was asked that as an English writer she was exploring herself as an Italian writer too, and how did in everyday life these two personalities live together. She replied that to become a successful writer she had to experience this condition. She stated,
I feel exposed, vulnerable, as it should be. An artist has to experience this condition. At some point I became a successful writer, and I’m grateful, but when I write, when I try to write, I always feel uncomfortable. You need to dig where you don’t feel comfortable. In this book, I ask myself: what am I running away from, why this metamorphosis, why this escape, where do I have to get to, what am I trying to leave behind?”
- In 2019, in an interview, Lahiri was asked about her favourite bookstore or library. She then replied that the Centro Studi Americani was inspired her in her writings. She further stated that she loved Labyrinth Books. She said,
My favorite library in Rome is the Centro Studi Americani, located in the Ghetto, a place that has inspired much of my writing in Italian. My favorite bookstore is the Libreria Trastevere whose extremely helpful staff suggested and special-ordered some of the authors in the anthology. In Princeton, I love Labyrinth Books where I stop to browse several times a week and can also speak in Italian with the owner. Firestone Library, a paradise of mid-century modern reading chairs and over eleven million holdings, makes me wish I could live forever.”
- In an interview, she was asked to give advice to the young writers, editors, and translators. She replied that read as much as one can so that one can write out of curiosity. She stated,
Be patient, remain forever curious, write for yourself and yourself only, and devote as much time and energy as humanly possible to reading.”
- In 2020, in an interview, Lahiri was asked that how did The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories fulfilled her project, and who were the other authors and stories involved with it. She then replied that she made frequent trips to Rome, and she already knew the authors who worked with her on her project. She said,
In brief, I worked on the book for three years while I was teaching at Princeton and making frequent trips back to Rome. Some of the authors were dear to me before I began the project. Others were discovered as I put together the book. The vast majority of them were both writers and translators.”
- Lahiri’s second novel titled ‘The Lowland’ encountered the atmosphere of the initial days of the Naxalite Movement in Calcutta. Amazon
- In 2020, Lahiri gave an interview on how to learn a new language and specifically advised the budding translators of the books.