Interpreter of Maladies

Jhumpa Lahiri

Illustrated by Shreya Gupta

Preface by Domenico Starnone

Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, is gorgeously illustrated for the first time by Shreya Gupta, exclusively for the Folio Society.

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‘She’s a dazzling storyteller with a distinctive voice, an eye for nuance, an ear for irony. She is one of the finest short story writers I’ve read.’
  1. Amy Tan

An immensely talented multilingual wordsmith, writing in Bengali, English and Italian, Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut short story collection blazed across the literary world upon publication, winning the Pulitzer Prize, the Pen award and the New Yorker Prize for Best First Book. Folio illustrates her multifaceted collection for the first time. Over nine stories, Lahiri deftly explores the tension between tradition and modernity, old and new worlds. The title story, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ hints at the maladies and misunderstandings that can arise from those tensions. Lahiri’s vividly drawn characters span generations and distances across the Bengali diaspora. We view partition from a distanced child’s perspective in ‘When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine’. In ‘The Blessed House’, we meet Tanima or ’Twinkle‘, who delights in collecting kitsch Christian figurines, embarrassing her husband. This new edition, illustrated by Shreya Gupta in bold, vibrant colours and patterns, includes the 2019 preface by Italian journalist and writer Domenico Starnone.

Quarter-bound in blocked cloth with printed textured paper sides

Set in Warnock with Owbeirak Serif as display

232 pages

Frontispiece and 6 full-page colour illustrations

Blocked slipcase

8¾˝ x 5½˝

‘Jhumpa Lahiri’s strong, subtle short story collection is a debut to relish.’
  1. Guardian

Jhumpa Lahiri’s storytelling is sensory and sharp, skewering social interactions and evoking the senses, sometimes playfully. Lahiri’s loosely connected short stories speak of love, duty, class, infidelity and familial ties, at once specific to a shared heritage yet universal. She weaves in nods to shared cultural touchpoints, however tentative. Mustard oil, jostling bangles, a parting dusted with vermillion, Mr. Kapasi’s Lotus oil balm, a handful of cashews, and the puffed rice that, unwittingly dropped, draws the attention of curious monkeys in the title story. Occasionally we glimpse casually jarring moments that highlight the liminal space inhabited by these characters; ‘I’ve never seen an Indian witch’ or ‘are you guys Christian? I thought you were Indian?’.

In this first-time illustrated edition, Indian artist Shreya Gupta, recreates the vibrant colours and patterns of Gujarati fabrics' with key scenes depicted in the slipcase graphics and the floral binding pattern. The cloth binding wraps Lahiri’s stories within a bold and beautiful Lotus flower pattern print in brilliant azure blues, persimmon oranges and vermilion reds. Gupta brings those blues and oranges to her palette of bright and bold colours for the specially commissioned illustrations within. With overlaid imagery and clever juxtapositions, Gupta expertly exposes the malady festering beneath the surface of each story.

Born in London to Indian parents in 1967, Jhumpa Lahiri moved to America as a child. In 2000 she became the youngest winner of a Pulitzer Prize for her first short story collection Interpreter of Maladies (1999; Folio Society 2023). The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, her novels include The Namesake and The Lowland. Having lived in Rome for some years, Lahiri has returned to America to teach creative writing at Princeton University. She writes in Italian and has recently published a translation of her first Italian novel, Dove mi trovo, as Whereabouts. Lahiri wrote the introductory essay for the Folio limited edition of The Divine Comedy (2021).

Domenico Starnone is an Italian writer born near Naples who now lives in Rome. A journalist and cultural critic, he is also one of Italy’s most acclaimed contemporary novelists and short-story writers. Via Gemito won the prestigious Premio Strega in 2001 and a number of his books have been adapted for film. Several of Starnone’s works have appeared in English translations by Jhumpa Lahiri, including most recently Trust (2021).

Shreya Gupta is a New York-based artist who is originally from India. She has illustrated an anniversary edition of Little Women, and a picture book, She Sang for India, as well as creating a Google Doodle of India’s first practicing woman doctor. Her work has been commissioned by The New York Times, Penguin Random House India and Viking Books, among other publishers. Gupta has an MFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and works as a book cover designer for Grand Central Publishing.


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