Writing as a refuge

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Jhumpa Lahiri was not the first writer to discover the Pulitzer effect – but she may have been of the less prepared. Ask any writer who’s won.

Life is never the same again and while fame brings with it many blessings it also takes a toll. Lahiri was a neophyte when the Pulitzer gods decided to smile on her.

In 1999 she published her first book, a collection of nine short stories called “Interpreter of Maladies.”

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In 2000 that book was awarded the Pulitzer. Overnight, she was a celebrity, both in the US and in India, the source of the Bengali immigrants who figure so widely in her stories.

In fact, when she married in India, her wedding became an unintentional circus and she admits that at times it was all just too overwhelming.

But, she told the Washington Post in a 2003 interview, she has a refuge. “I’ve always never loved anything more than sitting quietly in a room by myself, imagining things,” she says. And the Pulitzer, fortunately, has not changed that.

To read the Monitor’s review of her latest book, “The Unaccustomed Earth,” click here.

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