Friday, May 9, 2008

The Morning Reading: Displaced Passions

From Sarah Kerr's article on Jhumpa Lahiri in the New York Review of Books:

In a recent interview in Bookforum to mark the publication of her new story collection, Unaccustomed Earth, Lahiri offered her own grounded and modest understanding of the terrain she occupies as a writer. "Some bits and pieces are taken from my own parents and other parents that I knew growing up," she says.

And sometimes they're totally invented. The thing I took for granted when I was growing up is that I was living in a world within a world. It was a tight world, but I knew a lot of people and was privy to the whole spectrum of types and personalities and characters. To me they don't represent immigrants or anyone specific. They just represent the human condition.

To have grown up in a cohesive "world within a world," to have at her disposal what amounts to a kind of portable village, with reliably distinctive types whose life experience calls up broad human themes (grief, guilt, and striving) that are perennial, but also resonate with our anxiously global moment: this is not so common a heritage for your typical American writer today. Lahiri's confidence in her material seems to free her up to be rigorous with her craft, but in the manner of a composer who accepts that she is working within a well-established range of chords. At her best she is both a pop artist and a nimble classically trained one, tending with technical knowhow to questions of structure and flow: the right moment to shift from harmony to dissonance, to change key, to introduce a variation and then circle back to the opening theme.

Click here for the rest of the article.

No comments:

Site Meter