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

Friday, January 26, 2018

“The Boundary”- A Short Story by Jhumpa Lahiri from The New Yorker - January 29, 2018

“The Boundary” by Jhumpa Lahiri -

Jhumpa Lahiri on The Reading Life

“At the same time I wonder what they know about the loneliness here. What do they know about the days, always the same, in our dilapidated cottage? The nights when the wind blows so hard the earth seems to shake, or when the sound of rain keeps me awake? The months we live alone among the hills, the horses, the insects, the birds that pass over the fields? Would they like the harsh quiet that reigns here all winter? “ from “The Boundary”

Jhumpa Lahiri is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest of contemporary authors.  So far I have read and posted upon these of her books:

Interpreter of Maladies 1999 A Collection of Short Stories, Pulitzer Prize Winner

The Name Sake 2003

Unaccustomed Earth 2008 A Collection of Short Stories 

The Lowland 2013

The Clothing of Books - a nonfiction work on book jackets 

Additionally I have read and posted on eight  of her short stories, mostly in The New Yorker besides those in her two collections.

Jhumpa Lahiri first wrote “The Boundary” in Italian, then translated it into English ( the link above includes a discussion of her involvement with Italian and her life in Rome).  There is no geographic setting given in the story so I decided it was set in the hills of Tuscany, or my version was.  The narrator is a late teenage girl.  She lives with her parents.  Her father is the caretaker at an estate.  Her mother takes care of a sick man.  The owner, a wealthy foreigner rarely visits.  (They live in a small house.: When he does he rides horses during the day and reads at night.  In the summer time, the main house is rented out.  The narrator takes care of getting the house ready and making sure the visitors have what they need.

The girl and her family are foreigners, just like the visitors.  We don’t learn where they are from but we do learn the narrator feels out of place in school as she “looks different”.  We learn something shocking and heartbreaking as the story closes. It made me rethink my experience of the story.

You can at the link I posted listen to the author read the story and read it yourself.  I did both and this is what I suggest.  It is a wonderful story very much worth your time.

Mel u

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

Coincidentally, I just came upon my notes on The Lowland earlier today and was reminded just how impressive that story was (difficult but so poignant). I'm sure this is a fine story indeed. My hope to stay more up-to-date with TNY stories has not materialized yet this year, but I still enjoy reading your thoughts about them.