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Jhumpa Lahiri, Philip Glass, 2006 MacArthur fellows

October 2006
Jhumpa Lahiri, Philip Glass, 2006 MacArthur fellows

Jhumpa Lahiri needs no introduction, largely because of the Pulitzer Prize she won in 2000 for The Interpreter of Maladies, her debut collection of short stories. As further proof of her increasing fame, the book was chosen this year for "One Book, One Chicago." It's an annual event that encourages reading all over the city. "Almost all of us are immigrants, or the descendants of immigrants, and I think many of the stories will have a familiar ring," stated Chicago's mayor, adding, "These stories also remind us that immigrants are just like native-born citizens." The programs involving Lahiri's book include lectures, readings and discussions. Her best-selling novel, The Namesake, is another winner now that Mira Nair's film version is ready for commercial release. It features Kal Penn, Tabu and Irfan Khan, while Lahiri, interestingly, has a minor role as Aunt Jhumpa. Before Nair began the film project, she mentioned how much the novel meant to her. "It moved me to my bones," Nair told Khabar. "It's contemporary, of course, and it almost exactly describes the journey I have traveled. I've put aside everything else for now." Given such a personal connection, it's not surprising that the early reviews of her movie are quite favorable. Philip Glass, as a leading American composer, has long been known for his interest in Indian spiritual traditions, which have played an influential role in his works. "The Passion of Ramakrishna," his latest composition, is a 30-minute orchestral and choral piece that dwells on the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th-century proponent of the Vedanta movement. Last month in California, the Pacific Symphony and the Pacific Chorale gave the premiere performance. Speaking of winners, Atul Gawande, a Boston-based surgeon and author of Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, was chosen as one of the 25 MacArthur fellows this year; so was Shahzia Sikander, a Pakistani-American painter living in New York. The $500,000 award for every winner comes with no conditions. Dr. Gawande recently edited The Best American Science Writing 2006 (Harper Perennial).

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