Written by Lauryn Smith
Jhumpa Lahiri is one of the most talented writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I have now read her book of fictional short stories “Interpreter of Maladies” three times, and the latest instance has only reinforced my admiration. Lahiri’s writing is beautiful and effortless. Crafting a short story is no easy feat, yet each within the “Interpreter of Maladies” collection is stunning.
The title story involves the Das family, composed of a first-generation American couple of Indian descent and three young children, as they tour India. Lahiri tells the story from the perspective of Mr. Kapasi, the family’s local tour guide and driver. It is soon revealed to the family that Mr. Kapasi also works as an interpreter for a physician who does not speak his patient’s languages. As he is able to speak many of the languages of India, Mr. Kapasi translates people’s woes for them, a skill for which Mrs. Das deems him an “interpreter of maladies.”
Something about the Das family captivates Mr. Kapasi. He finds Mrs. Das particularly enamoring, partly due to of the special attention she pays him relative to her husband and children. Yet as she continues to romanticize Mr. Kapasi's role of medical confidant, she begins to reveal her own unexpected confidences, and for Mr. Kapasi, the situation turns sour.
Written by Lauryn Smith
The first and last graphic novel I read was for a contemporary fiction class in college. From that experience, I learned that there are some things that pictures, or a combination of pictures and text, can better accomplish than text alone. I used to think that graphic novels were only for young readers, but I have since changed my mind—graphic novels can actually be full of meaning. So when Reviewer Beth Winters suggested I read “Nimona” by Noelle Stevenson, I agreed.
I was not disappointed.
"Nimona,” which falls in the young adult genre, is a full-color graphic novel based on Stevenson’s web comic of the same name. In this work of fiction, there are heroes and villains and dragons and science and contemporary ideology. Essentially, Stevenson’s story consists of classic premises sprinkled with modernity.
The eponymous character, young in relation to the book’s other characters, one day shows up at the home of bad guy Lord Ballister Blackheart asking to be his sidekick. Reluctantly, Blackheart agrees. He and Nimona, who turns out to be a skilled shapeshifter, make and execute "villainous" plans, one of which leads them to discover that the powerful Institution of Law Enforcement is up to no good. Complicating matters is the fact that Blackheart’s once good friend Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin works for the Institution. Naturally, chaos ensues.
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