“The Interpreter of Maladies” – Inspired by Reading Book group blog hop

Interpreter of Maladies

Inspired by Reading Book Group. 

April’s selection: “The Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri

I was happy to have a chance to revisit these stories, as I had originally read the book 10 or more years ago. What I was instantly reminded of was their intensity. They are haunting, evocative, heartfelt and at times so very heavy. I was not able to complete the book this go through; both due to time constraints and the need to read something of a different mood. 

It was “When Mr. Pirzada came to dine” that inspired my piece this month. 

“Before eating Mr. Prizada always did a curious thing. He took out a plain silver watch without a band, which he kept in his breast pocket…Unlike the watch on his wrist, the pocket watch, he had explained to me, was set to the local time on Dacca, eleven hours ahead. For the duration of the meal the watch rested on his folded paper napkin on the coffee table. He never seemed to consult it…When I saw it that night, as he wound it and arranged it on the coffee table, an uneasiness possessed me; life, I realized, was being lived in Dacca first… 

The watch and the ritual was so symbolic, even more than a symbol – a direct link to his family so far away. There was love and longing in that ritual. There was hope and lonliness, worry, and despair present as well. I wanted to honor that ritual and create a talisman. 

Ganesh collage

Its not lost on me that Mr Prizada in the story is not Hindu – and I have chosen a Hindu god to go into the talisman. At story’s end he sends the family in the US, a Muslim New Year card – thus giving the reader confirmation as to his religion. But Ganesha is the “Remover of Obstacle” and there were so many obstacles, tangible and intangible, that stood between Mr. Prizada and his family, his future, his homeland. 

Ganesha watch

The piece is created inside an old pocket watch, lined with colorful sari fabric. I sculpted a Ganesh from polymer, and hand painted many layers, many details. There are crystals inlaid into the headdress as well. I am not sure what will happen to this piece – I can see it worn long with a tunic and leggings, but I can also see it as a hand held talisman. 

Ganesha watch 2

Dont let time be an obstacle. Make time for the people and pursuits that are important to you. 


Thanks for stopping by, I look forward to your comments, and seeing other’s book group offerings. 

Participants links can be found at Andrew’s blog. 


11 thoughts on ““The Interpreter of Maladies” – Inspired by Reading Book group blog hop

  1. Mary K says:

    Your creation this month is amazing. I am always in awe of what you do with polymer clay. Your piece is symbolic in so many ways and I like your sentiment at the end of your post.


    • jenny says:

      Thanks Mary – after so many years in earthen ceramic clay, polymer feels familiar, yet different. That last bit just spilled off my fingertips, I left it, hoping it wasnt too much. So thank you! 


  2. Mary Harding says:

    Great sentiment and talisman Jennie. I found that story so moving too. I think about the child eating a candy slowly for him and his family each night. I think your talisman would be helpful for her and him as well.


    • jenny says:

      Thank you Mary – I agree – that story was very evocative. I found myself researching and reading up on Parition as well. The fact that the division was religious, and I have taken one characters talisman, with the other’s beliefs… a statement on not letting religion be divisive? Hmm. 


  3. Ann says:

    What a beautiful talisman and a beautiful sentiment to go right along with it. I’m so impressed by the work that goes into taking clay and making it into something so beautiful and detailed.


  4. Sarajo Wentling says:

    Wow! Such a great talisman… I’m in awe of the detail you managed to capture! I really enjoy hearing about your thought process behind your creations. And I too, appreciate your sentiment at the end of the post. It’s far too easy to let time get away from us and to not give enough of it to the people and things that are most precious. Thanks for the reminder!


  5. Andrew Thornton says:

    What a fantastic focal! I love how detailed and thoughtful your interpretation of the story developed! I love the expression on the elephant’s face. Nicely done and thank you so much for participating!


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