Interpreter of Maladies: When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine

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Interpreter of Maladies: When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine

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mar 8, 2017, 12:00pm

Here's our discussion thread for the second story in Interpreter of Maladies. What did you think of it? How did this story compare to the others in the first three of the collection?

If you'd like to discuss themes across multiple stories, please feel free to create a new topic (see the "Post a new topic" link on the left-hand side of this page). For folks who've finished reading the whole book ahead of schedule, here's a thread where you can discuss the whole thing:

Redigeret: mar 8, 2017, 11:27pm

I'm not a huge fan of this story. A couple of plot points didn't quite add up or weren't quite convincing enough for me. I'll share more as I think on it some more.

mar 9, 2017, 8:26am

I enjoyed this one. It had a sort of To Kill A Mockingbird vibe to it with a little girl struggling to grasp how the world works. Maybe that's why I didn't mind if it didn't completely add up--the whole story is built on the idea that the narrator has a very limited perspective of what's really going on.

mar 9, 2017, 10:01am

>3 iamFOXFIRE:: That's a fair point re. the narrator being a child and, therefore, having a limited perspective on what's going on.

mar 9, 2017, 12:30pm

I'm on the fence about the candies-as-prayers detail. I know it's a tiny part of the story, but I can't decide if it feels contrived or exactly like something a 10-year-old would do.

The parts that really rang true for me were around the narrator and her father—specifically when he's trying to impart the complicated details of what's happening in his home country right now. It reminded me of conversations I had with my grandfather when I was young.

mar 9, 2017, 12:43pm

>5 lorannen: Fair enough, the candies-as-prayer thing was kind of silly but it felt exactly like something I would have done when I was a kid so I kind of liked it.

mar 10, 2017, 5:04pm

>6 iamFOXFIRE: IamFOXFIRE Although I accepted the candies-as-prayer detail as a matter of course when I was reading the story, your comment,, that "it felt exactly like something I would have done when I was a kid" jogged my memory to recall a similar incident in my own childhood. (My siblings and I secretly got up just before midnight one New Year's Eve and celebrated by drinking tap water out of cheap plastic Easter egg halves--only I mostly longed to get back to bed!)

In retrospect, how unsophisticated and silly--just as in the story.

I guess it depends on how protectively/freely we were raised--maybe also how long ago that was!!!.

mar 10, 2017, 7:20pm

>7 Diane-bpcb: Yes! Maybe I was just an especially silly kid but I remember doing things like that. I used to wear my pajamas inside out and drink a brimming glass of milk in less than 30 seconds because it was "good luck" if I was hoping for a snow day!

mar 11, 2017, 10:28am

So much in Lahiri's stories is unsaid but implied..

Here a 10 year old listens and observes the adults anxiety about turmoil in their homeland.
So I found it quite believable that she would impart symbolic importance to the gift of candy....particularily an imaginative child.

As much of Lahiri's writing is autobiographical in inspiration, it's not much of a leap to see the child as Lahiri,herself.

mar 11, 2017, 10:32am

>6 iamFOXFIRE: yes - I could see me doing that at the same age, and think many kids would have. Lots of things kids do seem silly, but often have a deeper reason that makes sense when you realize where it comes from

mar 13, 2017, 7:27am

For me this was definitely the best story in the collection (not saying much). The position of child as the POV allows the author's contrivances and coincidences to be explained away as things the child wouldn't know. I hadn't thought of the TKaMb connection as in >3 iamFOXFIRE: but yes like that. Children trying to interpret the crazy things that adults do, just follow the rules and agree. It also works better being focused on just the one culture at a time.

Redigeret: mar 13, 2017, 10:30am

I'll see how this goes, but the first few pages drew me in immediately. I like the child's perspective without it being a childish perspective. I also like the mystery of Mr. Pirzada and his family. Again I like the style that flows easily while at the same time pretty quickly wandering from one subject to the next. Time and pages will tell if this story pans out for me. Update later.

mar 26, 2017, 1:58pm

>5 lorannen: This is pretty late in the game, but I'm ok with the candies-as-prayers thing. She had fond memories of Halloween with Mr. Pirzada and so it made some sense to use the Holloween candies. It also reminded me of the Catholic churches votive candles as prayers, something a Catholic child would know about.

I don't have much to say about the rest of the story. Lahiri writes well and adds nice details that adds realism to the story.