City Of Jhumpa

Everyone is reading Jhumpa in Chicago! The city has the One Book, One Chicago program where it encourages all the citizens to read and discuss the same book. For fall 2006, the city has chosen Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, joining such previous classics in the program as To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice.

As Mayor Daley noted about Lahiri’s book, “The book allows readers a glimpse into the experience of immigrants, expatriates and first generation Americans living in America yet celebrating their cultural roots.”

It is a sign of the times that the Chicago Public Library has chosen a book about the ups and down of immigrant life. In fact one of the accompanying discussions include  “Jhumpa Lahiri and Thomas Jefferson: Two Writers in Dialogue With Each Other Over a 200 Year Distance: What America Was and What it has Become, 1806-2006.”

And so in planes and in trains, in universities, libraries and bookshops, Chicagoans will be reading Jhumpa. 

 “I salute the city of Chicago for promoting and celebrating the act of reading and the importance of literature on such a grand, civic scale,” she says.  “In a world where so many senseless and destructive events are constantly taking place, it is especially consoling and commendable.”

Now wouldn’t it be great if Iraq created the One Book, One Baghdad program and its citizens got together to read and discuss the collected works of Gandhi or the Dalai Lama?

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