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Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London, England in the New York Times Notable Book, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, a New England book. Jhumpa Lahiri is one of the most significant writers of the Indian Times Book Prize and was named one of the ―20 best young fiction writers. Jhumpa Lahiri, pictured beside the fountain in Trastevere, the Roman . is any fact written on the back of my books, it's that I grew up in Rhode.

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Jhumpa Lahiri is an accomplished novelist of the first rank." —San Diego Union- "The Namesake confirms what her first book suggested—that she's a writer. Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and raised in Rhode Island. Her debut Jhumpa Lahiri Author () (). cover image of The Clothing of Books. A must-have for the fans of the #1 bestselling author of Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris, a collection of his favorite short fiction from Flannery O'Connor to.

Downloaded from cww. When she was 3 years old, her family moved to Rhode Island where her father worked as a university librarian. As she was growing up, her family frequently visited Calcutta to see their relatives. Lahiri is the author of two short story collections and a novel, all of which have earned both critical and popular success, spending many weeks on bestseller lists and receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

She spreads her fingers over the taut, enormous drum her middle has become, wondering where the baby's feet and hands are at this moment. The child is no longer restless; for the past few days, apart from the occasional flutter, she has not felt it punch or kick or press against her ribs.

She wonders if she is the only Indian person in the hospital, but a gentle twitch from the baby reminds her that she is, technically speaking, not alone. Ashima thinks it's strange that her child will be born in a place most people enter either to suffer or to die. There is nothing to comfort her in the off-white tiles of the floor, the off-white panels of the ceiling, the white sheets tucked tightly into the bed.

In India, she thinks to herself, women go home to their parents to give birth, away from husbands and in-laws and household cares, retreating briefly to childhood when the baby arrives. Another contraction begins, more violent than the last.

She cries out, pressing her head against the pillow. Her fingers grip the chilly rails of the bed. No one hears her, no nurse rushes to her side. She has been instructed to time the duration of the contractions and so she consults her watch, a bon voyage gift from her parents, slipped over her wrist the last time she saw them, amid airport confusion and tears.

It wasn't until she was on the plane, flying for the first time in her life on a BOAC VC whose deafening ascent twenty-six members of her family had watched from the balcony at Dum Dum Airport, as she was drifting over parts of India she'd never set foot in, and then even farther, outside India itself, that she'd noticed the watch among the cavalcade of matrimonial bracelets on both her arms: Now, in addition, she wears a plastic bracelet with a typed label identifying her as a patient of the hospital.

She keeps the watch face turned to the inside of her wrist. On the back, surrounded by the words waterproof, antimagnetic, and shock-protected, her married initials, A. American seconds tick on top of her pulse point. For half a minute, a band of pain wraps around her stomach, radiating toward her back and shooting down her legs.

And then, again, relief. She calculates the Indian time on her hands. The tip of her thumb strikes each rung of the brown ladders etched onto the backs of her fingers, then stops at the middle of the third: In the kitchen of her parents' flat on Amherst Street, at this very moment, a servant is pouring after-dinner tea into steaming glasses, arranging Marie biscuits on a tray.

Her mother, very soon to be a grandmother, is standing at the mirror of her dressing table, untangling waist-length hair, still more black than gray, with her fingers.

Her father hunches over his slanted ink-stained table by the window, sketching, smoking, listening to the Voice of America.

Her younger brother, Rana, studies for a physics exam on the bed. She pictures clearly the gray cement floor of her parents' sitting room, feels its solid chill underfoot even on the hottest days. An enormous black- and-white photograph of her deceased paternal grandfather looms at one end against the pink plaster wall; opposite, an alcove shielded by clouded panes of glass is stuffed with books and papers and her father's watercolor tins.

For an instant the weight of the baby vanishes, replaced by the scene that passes before her eyes, only to be replaced once more by a blue strip of the Charles River, thick green treetops, cars gliding up and down Memorial Drive. In Cambridge it is eleven in the morning, already lunchtime in the hospital's accelerated. Instead she writes, in her letters home, of the powerful cooking gas that flares up at any time of day or night from four burners on the stove, and the hot tap water fierce enough to scald her skin, and the cold water safe enough to drink.

The top two floors of the house are occupied by their landlords, the Montgomerys, a Harvard sociology professor and his wife. The Montgomerys have two children, both girls, Amber and Clover, aged seven and nine, whose waist-length hair is never braided, and who play on warm days for hours on a tire swing rigged to the only tree in the backyard.

The professor, who has told Ashima and Ashoke to call him Alan, not Professor Montgomery as they had at first addressed him, has a wiry rust-colored beard that makes him look much older than he actually is. They see him walking to Harvard Yard in a pair of threadbare trousers, a fringed suede jacket, and rubber flip-flops.

Rickshaw drivers dress better than professors here, Ashoke, who still attends meetings with his adviser in a jacket and tie, thinks frequently to himself. The Montgomerys have a dull green Volkswagen van covered with stickers: They have a washing machine in the basement which Ashoke and Ashima are permitted to share, a television in their living room which Ashoke and Ashima can hear clearly through the ceiling.

It had been through the ceiling one night in April, when Ashoke and Ashima were eating their dinner, that they'd heard about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Sometimes Ashima and Alan's wife, Judy, stand side by side in the yard, clipping clothes to the line.

Judy always wears blue jeans, torn up into shorts once summer comes, and a necklace of small seashells around her throat. A red cotton scarf over her stringy yellow hair, the same texture and shade as her daughters', is always tied at the back of her neck. She works for a women's health collective in Somerville a few days a week. When she learned of Ashima's pregnancy she approved of Ashima's decision to breast-feed but had been disappointed to learn that Ashima was going to put herself in the hands of the medical establishment for her child's delivery; Judy's daughters were born at home, with the help of midwives at the collective.

Some nights Judy and Alan go out, leaving Amber and Clover unsupervised at home. Only once, when Clover had a cold, did they ask Ashima if she could check in on them. Ashima remembers their apartment with abiding horror—just beyond the ceiling yet so different from her own, piles everywhere, piles of books and papers, piles of dirty plates on the kitchen counter, ashtrays the size of serving platters heaped with crushed-out cigarettes.

The girls slept together on a bed piled with clothes. Sitting momentarily on the edge of Alan and Judy's mattress, she had cried out, falling clumsily backward, startled to discover that it was filled with water.

Instead of cereal and tea bags, there were whiskey and wine bottles on top of the refrigerator, most of them nearly empty. Just standing there had made Ashima feel drunk.

They arrive home from the hospital courtesy of Dr. Gupta, who owns a car, and sit in the sweltering living room, in front of their only box fan, suddenly a family. Instead of a couch they have six chairs, all of them three-legged, with oval wooden backs and black triangular cushions.

To her surprise, finding herself once again in the gloomy three-room apartment, Ashima misses the hustle-bustle of the hospital, and Patty, and the Jell-O and ice cream brought at regular intervals to her side.

As she walks slowly through the rooms it irks her that there are dirty dishes stacked in the kitchen, that the bed has not been made. Until now Ashima has accepted that there is no one to sweep the floor, or do the dishes, or wash clothes, or shop for groceries, or prepare a meal on the days she is tired or homesick or cross.

She has accepted that the very lack of such amenities is the American way. But now, with a baby crying in her arms, her breasts swollen with milk, her body coated with sweat, her groin still so sore she can scarcely sit, it is all suddenly unbearable. He sets the cup beside her on the flaking windowsill. She pulls back a bit of the curtain, then lets it fall. Not like this.

It's not right. I want to go back. On more than one occasion he has come home from the university to find her morose, in bed, rereading her parents' letters. Early mornings, when he senses that she is quietly crying, he puts an arm around her but can think of nothing to say, feeling that it is his fault, for marrying her, for bringing her here. He remembers suddenly about Ghosh, his companion on the train, who had returned from England for his wife's sake.

A soft knock on the door interrupts them: Alan and Judy and Amber and Clover, all there to see the baby. Judy holds a dish covered with a checkered cloth in her hands, says she's made a broccoli quiche.

Alan sets down a garbage bag full of Amber and Clover's old baby clothes, uncorks a bottle of cold champagne. The foaming liquid splashes onto the floor, is poured into mugs. They raise their mugs to Gogol, Ashima and Ashoke only pretending to take sips.

Amber and Clover flank Ashima at either side, both delighted when Gogol wraps a hand around each of their fingers. Judy scoops the baby out of Ashima's lap. Ashoke goes out to the corner store, and a box of disposable diapers replaces the framed black-and-white pictures of Ashima's family on the dressing table. Judy is at work at the collective as usual, and Ashima, on her own with Gogol for the first time in the silent house, suffering from a sleep deprivation far worse than the worst of her jet lag, sits by the three-sided window in the living room on one of the triangular chairs and cries the whole day.

She cries as she feeds him, and as she pats him to sleep, and as he cries between sleeping and feeding. She cries after the mailman's visit because there are no letters from Calcutta. She cries when she calls Ashoke at his department and he does not answer. One day she cries when she goes to the kitchen to make dinner and discovers that they've run out of rice.

She goes upstairs and knocks on Alan and Judy's door. To be polite, Ashima takes a cup, but downstairs she throws it away. She calls Ashoke at his department to ask him to pick up the rice on his way home. This time, when there is no answer, she gets up, washes her face and combs her hair. She changes and dresses Gogol and puts him into the navy blue, white-wheeled pram inherited from Alan and Judy.

For the first time, she pushes him through the balmy streets of Cambridge, to Purity Supreme, to buy a bag of white long-grain rice.

The errand takes longer than usual; for now she is repeatedly stopped on the street, and in the aisles of the supermarket, by perfect strangers, all Americans, suddenly taking notice of her, smiling, congratulating her for what she's done. They look curiously, appreciatively, into the pram. Like Ashoke, busy with his teaching and research and dissertation seven days a week, she, too, now has something to oc cupy her fully, to demand her utmost devotion, her last ounce of.

Before Gogol's birth, her days had followed no visible pattern. She would spend hours in the apartment, napping, sulking, rereading her same five Bengali novels on the bed.

But now the days that had once dragged rush all too quickly toward evening—those same hours are consumed with Gogol, pacing the three rooms of the apartment with him in her arms. Now she wakes at six, pulling Gogol out of the crib for his first feeding, and then for half an hour she and Ashoke lie with the baby in bed between them, admiring the tiny person they've produced. Between eleven and one, while Gogol sleeps, she gets dinner out of the way, a habit she will maintain for decades to come.

Every afternoon she takes him out, wandering up and down the streets, to pick up this or that, or to sit in Harvard Yard, sometimes meeting up with Ashoke on a bench on the MIT campus, bringing him some homemade samosas and a fresh thermos of tea.

At times, staring at the baby, she sees pieces of her family in his face—her mother's glossy eyes, her father's slim lips, her brother's lopsided smile. She discovers a yarn store and begins to knit for the coming winter, making Gogol sweaters, blankets, mittens, and caps.

Every few days she gives Gogol a bath in the porcelain sink in the kitchen. Every week she carefully clips the nails of his ten fingers and toes. When she takes him in his pram for his immunizations at the pediatrician's, she stands outside the room and plugs up her ears. One day Ashoke arrives home with an Instamatic camera to take pictures of the baby, and when Gogol is napping she pastes the square, white- bordered prints behind plastic sheets in an album, captions written on pieces of masking tape.

To put him to sleep, she sings him the Bengali songs her mother had sung to her. She drinks in the sweet, milky fragrance of his skin, the buttery scent of his breath. One day she lifts him high over her head, smiling at him with her mouth open, and a quick stream of undigested milk from his last feeding rises from his throat and pours into her own. For the rest of her life she will recall the shock of that warm, sour liquid, a taste that leaves her unable to swallow another thing for the rest of the day.

Letters arrive from her parents, from her husband's parents, from aunts and uncles and cousins and friends, from everyone, it seems, but Ashima's grandmother. The letters are filled with every possible blessing and good wish, composed in an alphabet they have seen all around them for most of their lives, on billboards and newspapers and awnings, but which they see now only in these precious, pale blue missives.

Sometimes two letters arrive in a single week. One week there are three. As always Ashima keeps her ear trained, between the hours of twelve and two, for the sound of the postman's footsteps on the porch, followed by the soft click of the mail slot in the door.

The margins of her parents' letters, always a block of her mother's hasty penmanship followed by her father's flourishing, elegant hand, are frequently decorated with drawings of animals done by Ashima's father, and Ashima tapes these on the wall over Gogol's crib. Every hour there is a change. Remember it. She writes that they are saving money for a trip home the following December, after Gogol turns one. She does not mention the pediatrician's concern about tropical diseases.

A trip to India will require a whole new set of immunizations, he has warned. In November, Gogol develops a mild ear infection. When Ashima and Ashoke see their son's pet name typed on the label of a prescription for antibiotics, when they see it at the top of his immunization record, it doesn't look right; pet names aren't meant to be made public in this way. But there is still no letter from Ashima's grandmother. They are forced to conclude that it is lost in the mail.

Ashima decides to write to her grand mother, explaining the situation, asking her to send a second letter with the names. The very next day a letter arrives in Cambridge. Though it is from Ashima's father, no drawings for Gogol adorn the margins, no elephants or parrots or tigers.

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The letter is dated three weeks ago, and from it they learn that Ashima's grandmother has had a stroke, that her right side is permanently paralyzed, her mind dim. She can no longer chew, barely swallows, remembers and recognizes little of her eighty-odd years. He walks over to a slim, blackened stone with a pleasing shape, rounded at the top before rising into a cross. He kneels on the grass and holds up the newsprint, then begins to rub gently with the side of his crayon.

The sun is already sinking and his fingers are stiff with cold. The teachers and chaperones sit on the ground, legs extended, leaning back against the headstones, the aroma of their menthol cigarettes drifting through the air. At first nothing appears apart from a grainy, featureless wash of midnight blue. But then, suddenly, the crayon meets with slight resistance, and letters, one after another, emerge magically on the page: Gogol has never met a person named Abijah, just as, he now realizes, he has never met another Gogol.

He wonders how to pronounce Abijah, whether it's a man's or a woman's name. He walks to another tombstone, less than a foot tall, and presses another sheet of paper to its surface. He shudders, imagining bones no larger than his below the ground. Some of the other children in the class, already bored with the project, begin chasing one another around the stones, pushing and teasing and snapping gum. But Gogol goes from grave to grave with paper and crayon in hand, bringing to life one name after another.

He likes these names, likes their oddness, their flamboyance. On the ride back to school the rubbings made by the other children are torn up, crumpled, tossed at one another's heads, abandoned below the dark green seats. But Gogol is silent, his rubbings rolled up carefully like parchment in his lap. At home, his mother is horrified. What type of field trip was this?

It was enough that they applied lipstick to their corpses and buried them in silk-lined boxes. Only in America a phrase she has begun to resort to often these days , only in America are children taken to cemeteries in the name of art. What's next, she demands to know, a trip to the morgue? In Calcutta the burning ghats are the most forbidden of places, she tells Gogol, and though she tries her best not to, though she was here, not there, both times it happened, she sees her parents' bodies, swallowed by flames.

Never before has she rejected a piece of her son's art. The guilt she feels at Gogol's deflated expression is leavened by common sense. How can she be expected to cook dinner for her family with the names of dead people on the walls?

But Gogol is attached to them. For reasons he cannot explain or necessarily understand, these ancient Puritan spirits, these very first immigrants to America, these bearers of unthinkable, obsolete names, have spoken to him, so much so that in spite of his mother's disgust he refuses to throw the rubbings away.

He rolls them up, takes them upstairs, and puts them in his room, behind his chest of drawers, where he knows his mother will never bother to look, and where they will remain, ignored but protected, gathering dust for years to come.

{PDF} Jhumpa Lahiri - The Clothing of Books {eBook}

Like most events in his life, it is another excuse for his parents to throw a party for their Bengali friends. His own friends from school were invited the previous day, a tame affair, with pizzas that his father picked up on his way home from work, a baseball game watched together on television, some Ping-Pong in the den.

For the first time in his life he has said no to the frosted cake, the box of harlequin ice cream, the hot dogs in buns, the balloons and streamers taped to the walls. The other celebration, the Bengali one, is held on the closest Saturday to the actual date of his birth. As usual his mother cooks for days beforehand, cramming the refrigerator with stacks of foil-covered trays. She makes sure to prepare his favorite things: All this is less stressful to her than the task of feeding a handful of American children, half of whom always claim they are allergic to milk, all of whom refuse to eat the crusts of their bread.

Close to forty guests come from three different states. Women are dressed in saris far more dazzling than the pants and polo shirts their husbands wear. A group of men sit in a circle on the floor and immediately start a game of poker. These are his mashis and meshos, his honorary aunts and uncles. They all bring their children; his parents' crowd does not believe in baby-sitters.

As usual, Gogol is the oldest child in the group.


He is too old to be playing hide-and-seek with eight-year-old Sonia and her ponytailed, gap- toothed friends, but not old enough to sit in the living room and discuss Reaganomics with his father and the rest of the husbands, or to sit around the dining room table, gossiping, with his mother and the wives. The closest person to him in age is a girl named Moushumi, whose family recently moved to Massachusetts from England, and whose thirteenth birthday was celebrated in a similar fashion a few months ago.

But Gogol and Moushumi have nothing to say to each other. Moushumi sits cross-legged on the floor, in glasses with maroon plastic frames and a puffy polka-dotted headband holding back her thick, chin-length hair. In her lap is a kelly green Bermuda bag with pink piping and wooden handles; inside the bag is a tube of 7UP-flavored lip balm that she draws from time to time across her mouth.

She is reading a well-thumbed paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice while the other children, Gogol included, watch The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, piled together on top and around the sides of his parents' bed. Occasionally one of the children asks Moushumi to say something, anything, in her English accent. Sonia asks if she's ever seen Princess Diana on the street. Presents are opened when the guests are gone. Gogol receives several dictionaries, several calculators, several Cross pen-and-pencil sets, several ugly sweaters.

His parents give him an Instamatic camera, a new sketchbook, colored pencils and the mechanical pen he'd asked for, and twenty dollars to spend as he wishes. Her father's cousin was involved in a train wreck and was only saved when the workers saw a beam of light reflected off of a watch he was wearing. Similarly, the protagonist's father in The Namesake was rescued due to his peers recognizing the books that he read by Russian author Nikolai Gogol.

The father and his wife immigrated to the United States as young adults. After this life-changing experience, he named his son Gogol and his daughter Sonia. Together the two children grow up in a culture with different mannerisms and customs that clash with what their parents have taught them. Lahiri herself made a cameo as "Aunt Jhumpa. Lahiri's second collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth , was released on April 1, Upon its publication, Unaccustomed Earth achieved the rare distinction of debuting at number 1 on The New York Times best seller list.

Lahiri has also had a distinguished relationship with The New Yorker magazine in which she has published a number of her short stories, mostly fiction, and a few non-fiction including The Long Way Home; Cooking Lessons, a story about the importance of food in Lahiri's relationship with her mother. Since , Lahiri has been a vice president of the PEN American Center , an organization designed to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers.

In February , she was appointed a member of the Committee on the Arts and Humanities , along with five others. The following month it was also long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction , and revealed to be a finalist on October 16, In the essay she declared that she is now only writing in Italian, and the essay itself was translated from Italian to English.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri | Books

The award was established by the family of Pulitzer Prize winning writer Bernard Malamud to honor excellence in the art of short fiction. The story explores the life of two families and the contrasting features between them. Lahiri's writing is characterized by her "plain" language and her characters, often Indian immigrants to America who must navigate between the cultural values of their homeland and their adopted home.

Lahiri examines her characters' struggles, anxieties, and biases to chronicle the nuances and details of immigrant psychology and behavior. Until Unaccustomed Earth , she focused mostly on first-generation Indian American immigrants and their struggle to raise a family in a country very different from theirs.

Her stories describe their efforts to keep their children acquainted with Indian culture and traditions and to keep them close even after they have grown up in order to hang onto the Indian tradition of a joint family , in which the parents, their children and the children's families live under the same roof. Unaccustomed Earth departs from this earlier original ethos, as Lahiri's characters embark on new stages of development. These stories scrutinize the fate of the second and third generations.

As succeeding generations become increasingly assimilated into American culture and are comfortable in constructing perspectives outside of their country of origin, Lahiri's fiction shifts to the needs of the individual.

She shows how later generations depart from the constraints of their immigrant parents, who are often devoted to their community and their responsibility to other immigrants. That season featured a character named Sunil, a widower who moves to the United States from India and struggles with grief and with culture shock. Although she is credited as a writer on these episodes, her role was more as a consultant on how a Bengali man might perceive Brooklyn.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article's lead section may not adequately summarize its contents. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines , please consider modifying the lead to provide an accessible overview of the article's key points in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article.

March This list is incomplete ; you can help by expanding it. Retrieved on National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved August 17, Professor of Creative Writing". Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University.

Retrieved on April 13, Retrieved December 4, Research at Princeton, Princeton University. Retrieved May 15, New Leader. Retrieved July 23, Toibin and Crace lead shortlist". BBC News. September 10, Retrieved September 11, National Book Foundation. Retrieved September 4, Limca Book of Records.

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