Jhumpa Lahiri Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Although her parents were from Calcutta, Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London on July 11, 1967, and raised in Rhode Island, where she began writing while still in grade school. After completing her undergraduate education at Barnard College in New York City (B.A., 1989), she worked as a research assistant at a nonprofit organization before enrolling in Boston University’s writing program (M.A., 1993); “Interpreter of Maladies” first appeared in the program’s literary magazine, Agni. In the course of earning a doctorate in Renaissance studies (Boston University, 1997), Lahiri realized that she had considerably more interest in imaginative writing than in scholarship. A two-year fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown (1997-1999) gave her time to write as well as to secure an agent, a coveted acceptance from The New Yorker, and a book contract from Houghton Mifflin. Her apprenticeship complete and the making of her international reputation under way, Lahiri settled in New York City.


Like her characters in The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri is of Bengali/Indian descent. She was born in London, in 1967, and was later brought to Kingston, Rhode Island, where she grew up. When it was time for college, Lahiri went to Barnard, where she received her bachelor's degree in English literature. Afterward, she taught creative writing at Boston University and at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Lahiri's first published book was a collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), which won the Pulitzer Prize. The topic of the stories in this collection is similar to the general theme of The Namesake—problems of assimilating to a new country.

The Namesake is Lahiri's first novel. In 2007, a film adaptation of The Namesake was made. In 2008, Lahiri published a second collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth. Shortly after this collection appeared in bookstores, it shot to number one on the New York Times best-seller list.

Lahini is married to Albert Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist. The couple and their two children live in Brooklyn, New York


Jhumpa Lahiri's life is as quietly interesting and complex as that of her characters. She was born to Bengalese parents in London in 1967 and then raised in Rhode Island, where her father is a librarian. Lahiri attended Barnard College as an undergraduate, then Boston University, where she earned two masters' degrees, and a PhD in Renaissance Studies. Her desire to write started young; she was writing miniature novels with her friends as early as grade school.

Besides emphasizing books and learning, something that defines many of her characters, as well as her professional path, Lahiri's family influences her work in other ways as well. They often vacationed in Calcutta, staying from a few weeks to several months at a stretch. These trips, combined with stories from family members, color and inform her fiction. For example, the main character in one of the stories in her first collection, Interpreter of Maladies, is based on her father. That collection won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000.

Lahiri’s other works include her best-selling novel The Namesake.


(Short Stories for Students)

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London, England, in 1967. Her parents, natives of Bengal, India, soon moved the family to Rhode Island, where...

(The entire section is 191 words.)