Botched Book ClubMay 1, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 6 Comments
My book group met on Wednesday. Normally we do Thursday nights. I was sick last time, so I was a bit out of the loop, and I wasn’t totally prepared. I sat up to finish the book late Tuesday night. I realized Wednesday morning, when I went to cross the title off my list, that
I read the wrong book!
[cue theme music from Psycho]
We chose The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri, which won the Pulitzer prize. What I actually read was The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai, which won the Booker Prize. They were adjacent in my Reading List spreadsheet. Is it just me, or was this a fairly reasonable mistake?
The sad part is, The Interpreter of Maladies is not only about 50% shorter, but it’s also a collection of short stories. I knew this, and as I was reading The Inheritance of Loss I kept wondering why it wasn’t considered a novel. You’d think something would have tipped me off sooner.
There’s a darker undercurrent here, though, than having to go to book group after having read only a couple of short stories over lunch. That is, evidently in my mind I tagged these two terrific books as “India books.” There seems to be a tendency to shop for multicultural books to make a well-rounded reading experience. To me there’s an element of, I don’t know, trivialization or commodification here or something. Like if I wrote a memoir, it would be “another one of those ‘triumph over adversity’ things.” It’s certainly not that I think my book group does this – I’m just worried that I did.
So anyway. I can heartily recommend both books. I can also recommend actually writing things down rather than trying to memorize them.