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Shukumar, Shoba, Shoba’s Mother, Shukumar’s Mother
April 1998, by Jhumpa Lahiri
The story takes place over five days, beginning March 19, at the suburban Boston home of a married couple, Shoba and Shukumar. During this week, when they must cope with a one-hour power outage each evening, the grief and alienation that the two have suffered since the stillbirth of their child six months earlier builds to a climax.
A short but simple story “A Temporary Matter” focuses heavily on the theme of lost love between the two protagonists. Other major themes include grief, deception, and alienation.
Lahiri uses dozens of everyday details to create a realistic context in which the story takes place. Taken together, such details comprise a world that readers find familiar. The realism of the environment makes the characters who live in it and the events that take place in it seem real as well. As the story unfolds, Lahiri provides readers with two conflicting sets of clues as to how it might end.
Mr. Bradford, Mrs. Bradford, Shoba, Shukumar
Interpreter of Maladies, the collection in which "A Temporary Matter" appears, won widespread praise from American critics when it appeared. The collection went on to win the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a rare achievement for a short story collection.
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