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Literature Study GuidesInterpreter Of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies

Jhumpa Lahiri

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Jhumpa Lahiri

Year Published



Short Stories



At a Glance

Jhumpa Lahiri's short story collection Interpreter of Maladies etches a compelling portrait of vivid characters bridging two cultures: Bengali and American. Many of the figures in these tales confront the hurdles of assimilation, while others must face the necessity of reacquainting themselves with Indian roots grown unfamiliar. Lahiri's collection, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2000, has been widely acclaimed for its keen perception of character and its luminous prose style.

Perspective and Narrator

In Interpreter of Maladies, these stories feature first-person narrators: "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" and "The Third and Final Continent." The narrator of "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" is a collective, first-person "we," suggesting the speaker is one of a group of neighbors or onlookers. The remaining six stories have third-person narrators.


All the stories in Interpreter of Maladies are written in the past tense.

About the Title

Interpreter of Maladies takes its title from one of the stories in the collection. In that story, Mr. Kapasi's full-time job as a doctor's assistant involves translating from one Indian language to another so that the patients can communicate their symptoms and complaints. At a broader, more symbolic level, many of the characters in these short stories suffer from physical or psychological disorders or maladjustments. The author Jhumpa Lahiri thus serves as these characters' "interpreter of maladies."


This study guide and infographic for Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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