Interpreter of Maladies Archive

Big Picture, Small Picture: Context for Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies

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His voice a thin radio rasp, Neil Armstrong coaches Buzz Aldrin down the ladder of the Lunar Module. “It’s about a three footer,” he says of that last step to the chalky surface below. The second man on the moon leaps from the final rung and lands buoyantly.

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Inside most classrooms lives a beast, many-eyed. If you’ve been a student in a classroom, especially in those early grades when a year lasts an eon, you’ve been part of this beast. You saw your elementary-school teachers with a collective, sharpened vision (their combovers, fluffy perms, paunches, thick, magnifying