Jhumpa Lahiri (la-HAR-ee) was born in London on July 11, 1967, to Bengali parents originally from Calcutta. Her mother, a teacher, and her father, a librarian, immigrated to the United States when she was a child, and Lahiri grew up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. She was a shy child, uncomfortable in groups, who started writing ten-page “novels” during recess with friends, quiet girls like her who enjoyed stories. In one interview, Lahiri said she always hoped for rainy days so she could stay inside and write instead of having to run around the playground.
In high school, Lahiri stopped writing fiction, for she had no confidence in her ability in the form, and instead wrote articles for the high school newspaper. In college, she took some creative writing classes but still felt she might never succeed in writing fiction and thus decided to be an academic. After being turned down by a number of graduate schools, she got a job as a research assistant at a nonprofit organization, discovered the ease of writing with a computer, and began writing fiction again.
A second-generation immigrant, Lahiri found it difficult having parents who, even after living abroad for thirty years, still considered India home. She said she inherited a sense of exile from her parents, even though she felt more American than they. Lahiri, realizing that loneliness and a sense of alienation are hard for immigrant parents, thought that the problem for their children was that they feel neither one thing nor the other. Having visited India often, Lahiri said she never felt any more at home there than she did in the United States.
Much of Lahiri’s time spent in Calcutta as a child was with her grandmother, which she said made it...
(The entire section is 711 words.)