The IUP Journal of English Studies
Searching for Self in Scattered Shards: Jhumpa Lahiri's Postmodern Narrative Whereabouts

Article Details
Pub. Date : March, 2022
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES120322
Author Name :Jagdish Batra
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 09



Jhumpa Lahiri has been hailed for the authentic portrayal of diasporic life of the people from the Indian subcontinent settled in the US. In her earlier works, she had focused more on the externals so that the internal was obliquely revealed. In the novel Whereabouts (2021), however, Lahiri focuses more on the inner thoughts and sentiments of a protagonist whose nationality does not count for much. The narrative directly reveals the co-relation between the external stimuli and the resultant inner reaction which leads to self-realization. Lahiri's narrative, as always, is delicate and shorn of linguistic flourishes, and yet highly successful in retaining the interest of the reader

Pulitzer awardee Jhumpa Lahiri, who has been acclaimed for the portrayal of diasporic life in her two novels, viz., The Namesake (2003) and The Lowland (2013) as also in her collections of short stories, viz., Interpreter of Maladies (1999) and Unaccustomed Earth (2009) takes a turn in her latest novel Whereabouts (2021) in which the unnamed narrator, appearing to be her doppelganger describes her life in an unnamed Italian city. It is a short novel with very short chapters numbering 46 in all, and compared to her previous works, is clearly different. Its beauty is that any chapter may be removed without damaging the narrative structure.

Lahiri had made her entry into the literary world with a bang, so to say, winning the Pulitzer for her maiden story collection Interpreter of Maladies way back in 2000. The nine stories contained therein presented a writer who could very well sway the human heart without resorting to the stock artistic paraphernalia of rhetoric or mushy descriptions. Whereas most of the characters belonged to the Indian subcontinent settled in the US, there were a few destitute female characters situated in India which provided contrast to the middle-class diasporic community. In her other collection of short stories Unaccustomed Earth too, the focus remained on the diasporic people and various situations and relationships, as between an Indian and a foreigner (not necessarily American) or between co-diasporics were probed. In three stories featuring two Indians, Hema and Kaushik,