Interpreter of Maladies: Love and marriage
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From the outside, these marriages have all the markings of comfort -- nice homes, jobs, etc. But, there are failed expectations, unspoken/unshared sorrows, miscommunication, etc. And all this despite being from the same cultural backgrounds. So, it seems to me, Lahiri was trying to bust that big myth that her generation and her parents' generation of Indian immigrants have/had -- about how marrying within your own is better than not.
Interestingly, the last story is also that of an arranged marriage and yet ends on a hopeful/positive note. I'm not sure why this is. Will revisit that story later in the right thread.
Unhappy marriages are common in most cultures, that conflict makes for good story telling,
I don't see that larger theme about one kind of marriage being better than another.
And, yes, there are 2-3 stories where the marriages are not unhappy hence my qualifier "most" vs "all."
What I described is specific to the Indian immigrant community -- how there is a common belief that marrying within the community is best for a happy marriage/life. At least that has been the case with the generation of Jhumpa's parents and, to a large extent, her/my generation as well.
This idea of how arranged marriages within Indian immigrant communities are really not all they are cracked up to be is not new to Lahiri. It is found in the stories of almost all Indian-American writers of Lahiri's generation and older: e.g. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Bharati Mukherjee, Anita Desai, and more.
Recently, there has been a fair bit of criticism (so many articles out there) of this repeated trope as well because the younger generation isn't quite as keen on or even compelled to consider marriage within the community.
edit - sorry, touchstones dont seem to be working
I also recall reading interviews with Lahiri when the book came out and she talked about this. Again, Google will uncover these, I'm sure, if it interests you further.
I'm going to move on from this topic because it is pointless to argue about what themes struck me as important vs what struck you as important. In the end, we bring our own experiences and beliefs to our reading.
>6 cindydavid4:: Actually, though I'm a big reader of Indian-American writers (or, more broadly, American writers of South Asian origin), and I've read some Divakaruni, I'm not a fan of her work. I can't pinpoint why exactly because I haven't spent enough time thinking it through. I only know that, after forcing myself to get to the end of her collection of stories Arranged Marriage: Stories, I have not picked up another of her books.
These days, the most interesting writing by Indian-American (or writers of South Asian origin) women writers I am liking are: Nina McConigley, Tanwi Nandini Islam, Tahmima Anam, Mira Jacob, Sejal Shah, Tania James, Jade Sharma, and more.
With male writers of South Asian origin, these are most interesting to me these days: Amitava Ghosh, Akhil Sharma, Vikram Chandra -- whose Sacred Games is going to be a Netflix series, Kanishk Tharoor, Karan Mahajan, Anuk Arudpragasam, Sunil Yapa, et al.