Good Immigrant Novels | Jhumpa Lahiri and the Aesthetics of Respectability

Sanjena Sathian

When I was in tenth grade, my favorite English teacher pulled me aside ceremoniously to deliver some news. That year, Jhumpa Lahiri’s 1999 story collection The Interpreter of Maladies was replacing Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart on our “World Literature”-themed syllabus. (Never mind that most of those Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories take place in the U.S.) This was 2006, before the emergence of the bromide “representation matters,” but that was...

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