Jhumpa Lahiri: “She rented a room and pecked out stories at night on her typewriter.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri, born Nilanjana Sudeshna Lahiri in London in 1967. Her father, a librarian, moved the family to Kingston, Rhode Island, when Lahiri was two.

Growing up, Lahiri often felt conflicted between two worlds: that of her parents, who still listened to traditional Bengali songs on a reel-to-reel tape player, and that of her American friends, who watched television and went to the movies. A nervous child who was afraid of sports and public speaking, she found solace in reading.

She says: “Books, and the stories they contained, were the only things I felt I was able to possess as a child.” She began writing stories at age seven with a school friend, stealing blank notebooks from the teacher’s supply closet. They wrote stories about orphaned girls, prairies, and girls with magical powers.

She moved to Boston after graduating from Barnard College and worked the cash register at a bookstore. She rented a room in a house and pecked out stories at night on her typewriter. It took eight years and several rejections until her first collection of stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, was published in 1999. It became an instant best-seller and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2000.

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