Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Once in a Life Time" by Jhumpa Lahiri

"Once in a Life Time" by Jhumpa Lahiri (May 8, 2006, 10 pages, The New Yorker)

Short  readers of the world owe a great debt to The New Yorker.    In a true show of generosity they make many of the wonderful short stories they have published available for anyone to read for free on their web page.    Several of  of the stories of Jhumpa Lahiri can be read there.    I have previously posted on her "Heaven and Hell" and very recently on "Sexy".     I loved both of these stories.   I read a third of her stories "Once in a Life Time"  yesterday.

Like almost all of her work, "Once in a Life Time"  deals with highly educated Bengali immigrants to the USA.   Most of the men in these stories are engineers.   The women are divided among stay at home mothers dedicated to preserving the traditions of their culture and modern career women.    The characters in the story are very driven to succeed and often do indulge in conspicuous consumption to demonstrate their wealth.   The children are rapidly Americanized.

To be very brief  in this post (I hope!)  "Once Upon a Life Time" is narrated by the early teenage daughter of a couple.     Her parents have been friends for many years with another couple who used had left the USA and returned to India.   Years later they decide to return to the USA as the man has landed a very good job.    They ask if they can stay with their old friends until they get settled and find a house of  their own.    The  couple from Indian bring with them their teenage son.  

The story is about the relationship of  the couples and of the two teenagers.   It is a story of perception and confusion.    Lahiri's portrayal of the relationships in the story are really well done.   There is a tragic ending to the story that will powerfully impact many readers of the story.  

"Once in a Life Time" can be read HERE

Mel u


Bellezza said...

I love Lahiri's writing. Most especially I've enjoyed The Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. I'm not so familiar with her short stories, so I'll need to look this one up.

Tanu said...

Hmm...I have read her books, but not the short stories posted in The New Yorker. I must get my hands on her short stories. Great review of her short story!