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Issue 116 - Arranging life

Whisky Magazine Issue 116
December 2013

 

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Arranging life

We look at another writer with an interesting diverse background

In this installment of my series on writers with ridiculously interesting backgrounds, I look at Jhumpa Lahiri. Born in London to a Bengali family from Calcutta, the 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner grew up in Rhode Island and is fantastic observer of both suburban New England life and the Indian-American community.

The book that won her the Pulitzer, the short-story collection The Interpreter of Maladies, is an assemblage of tales in which Bengali culture runs head on into everyday Americana. One of the more amusing ones is This Blessed House, which revolves around a newly-wed Indian couple who move into a house that, they discover, is full of left-behind statuettes of Christ and other religious kitsch. The wife, nicknamed Twinkle, is delighted, while her husband Sanjeev tells her to throw the stuff away: “We're not Christian,” Sanjeev said. Lately he had begun noticing the need to state the obvious to Twinkle. She shrugged. “No, we're not Christian. We're good little Hindus.” In the end, Twinkle gets her way, and Christ goes up on the mantelpiece.

The marriage is an arranged one – Sanjeev and Twinkle have only known each other for four months, and their initial incompatibility is obvious. Once on their way to dinner in Manhattan, they argue about the Christian gewgaws, without reaching any resolution satisfactory to Sanjeev.

Twinkle had drunk four glasses of whiskey in a nameless bar in Alphabet City and forgot all about it. From Sanjeev's perspective things get...

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