Transnational Spaces of Identity Recognition in Jhumpa Lahiri’s "Interpreter of Maladies"

Jesús Escobar Sevilla


The object of this study is to explore the relation between identity and space in Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies (1999). I will gauge how subjects adjust to their environments and to which means they resort to conserve, negate meaning. It appears that through the perusal of border consciousness subjects negotiate their identities, which leads them to understand the Other and, by extension, themselves. In fact, as the sense of belonging operates on the multi-layered and deterritorialised location of home, I will thus illustrate that whilst some subjects are hindered by forces of dislocation, cultural hybridity, others reassert a sense of transnational belonging in a third space. I shall include an introductory note on the theoretical framework and a section on food adding to the more detailed literature discussion of identity negotiation at stake.


Jhumpa Lahiri; “Interpreter of Maladies”; space; adaptation; diaspora; food


Alfonso-Forero, A. M. 2017. “Immigrant Motherhood and Transnationality in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Fiction.” Literature Compass 4 (3): 851-861. Wiley Online Library.

Appadurai, A. 1996. Modernity at large. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

Appiah, K. A. 2006. Cosmopolitanism. New York: Norton.

Augé, M. 2014. Los no lugares. Barcelona: GEDISA.

Badiou, A. 2012. Ethics: an Essay on the Understanding of Evil. Verso Books.

Bahmanpour, B. 2010. “Female Subjects and Negotiating Identities in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies”. Studies on Literature and Language 6: 43-51.

Bahri, D. 2013. “Aliens, Aliases, Surrogates and Familiars: The Family in Jhumpa Lahiri's Short Stories.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 36 (1): 37-49. Tandfonline.

Bhabha, H. 1984. “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse.” October 28: 125-133.The MIT Press. https:

Bhabha, H. 1994. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge.

Bhatt, M. B. 2009. “Struggle to Acculturate in The Namesake: A Comment on Jhumpa Lahiri's Work as Diaspora Literature”. IMDS “Working Paper” 18.

Brada-Williams, N. 2004. “Reading Jhumpa Lahiri's “Interpreter of Maladies” as a Short Story Cycle”. MELUS 29 (3/4, Pedagody, Canon, Context: Toward a Redefinition of Ethnic American Literary Studies): 451-464.

Brah, A. 1996. Cartographies of Diaspora. London: Routledge. .

Caesar, J. 2005. “American Spaces in the Fiction of Jhumpa Lahiri”. English Studies in Canada 31 (1): 50-68.

Caesar, J. 2007. “Gogol’s Namesake: Identity and Relationships in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.” Atenea 27 (1): 103-19. Tandfonline.

Choubey, A. 2001. “Food Metaphor in Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies.” The Literature & Culture of the Indian Subcontinent (South Asia) in the Postcolonial Web 3: n. p.

Cohen, R. 2008. Global Diasporas: an Introduction. London: Routledge. .

Derrida, J. 1978. Writing and difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Faist, T. 2000. The Volume and Dynamics of International Migration and Transnational Social Spaces. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Farshid, S. and S. Taleie (2013). The Fertile ‘Third Space’ in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Stories. International Journal of Comparative Literature & Translation Studies, 1 (3): 1-5. .

Friedman, N. 2008. “From Hybrids to Tourists: Children of Immigrants In Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake.” CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 50 (1): 111-128.

Garg, S. 2012. “Interpreting A Culinary Montage: Food In Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter Of Maladies.” Asiatic: IIUM Journal Of English Language & Literature 6 (1): 73-83. Humanities International Index.

Hall, S. (1990). Cultural identity and diaspora. In J. Rutherford. (Ed.). Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Framework, 36, 222-37. .

Kivisto, P. 2001. “Theorizing transnational immigration: a critical review of current efforts”. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24 (4): 549-77.

Kuortti, J. 2007. “Problematic Hybrid Identity in the Diasporic Writings of Jhumpa Lahiri”. Reconstructing Hybridity: Post-Colonial Studies in Transition. Eds. Joel Kuortti and Jopi Nyman. Amsterdam-New York: 205-18.

Lahiri, J. 1999. Interpreter of Maladies. Boston, New York: Mariner Books.

Lahiri, J. 2004. “Cooking Lessons: The Long Way Home”. The New Yorker 6: 83-84.

Levinas, E. 1969. Totality and Infinity. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers & Duquesne University Press. 2nd edition. 1979; Springer, 1980 (in English).

Lewis, S. 2001. “Lahiri’s ‘Interpreter of Maladies.’” Explicator 59 (4): 219-21.

Mishra, V. 1996. “The Diasporic Imaginary: Theorizing the Indian Diaspora.” Textual Practice 10 (3): 421-447.

Monaco, A. 2015. “Jhumpa Lahiri. The Interpreter of the New Indian Diaspora.” Impossibilia 9: 73-90.

Portes, A., Guarnizo, L. C. and P. Landolt. (1999). “The study of transnationalism: Pitfalls and promise of an emergent research field”. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22 (2): 217-37. .

Ridda, M. 2011. “Thinking Global? Local Globalisms and Global Localisms in the Writing of Jhumpa Lahiri”. Postcolonial Text 6 (2): 1-14.

Singh, H. K. J., and M. Manimangai 2012. “KS Maniam, Jhumpa Lahiri, Shirley Lim: A Reflection of Culture and Identity.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature 1 (3): 68-75. .

Vertovec, S. 2001. “Transnationalism and Identity”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 7 (4): 573-582.

Williams, L. A. 2007. “Foodways and Subjectivity in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies”. MELUS 32 (4). Food in Multi-Ethnic Literatures: 69-79. .



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300