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ROMAN STORIES

In Lahiri’s collection of “Roman Stories,” she explores the perspective of outsiders looking into the vibrant city of Rome. With stories that delve into the lives of characters renting guesthouses or struggling to find a sense of home in a new country, Lahiri captures the complexities of human connections and the impact of physical spaces. The central story, “The Steps,” takes readers on a journey through the lives of seven individuals, each occupying their own section of an ancient staircase. Through these poignant tales, Lahiri reflects on themes of loss, memory, and the beauty found amidst the challenges of life. “Roman Stories” offers a captivating glimpse into the tapestry of Rome’s diverse inhabitants and the struggles they face in a city that is both flawed and captivating.

ROMAN STORIES

ROMAN STORIES

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The Boundary

“The Boundary” is the opening story of Lahiri’s collection, and it sets the tone for the themes explored throughout the book. The story is narrated by a young girl whose family rents out a guesthouse on their property. From her vantage point, she watches and listens to the renters, drawing conclusions about their lives. However, it is later revealed that they are also observing her family. This story highlights the idea of outsiders looking in and the complexities of human connections.

The Procession

In “The Procession,” a couple struggles to settle into their new apartment. The wife is particularly agitated by a locked room and a dangerous-looking chandelier. This story explores the anxieties and uneasiness that can arise when entering unfamiliar spaces and the tension that can build within relationships. Lahiri adeptly captures the emotional nuances in these seemingly ordinary situations.

Well-Lit House

In “Well-Lit House,” Lahiri tackles issues of discrimination and prejudice. An immigrant couple with five children is forced out of their home by bigots. The wife and children return to their home country, while the husband finds himself homeless in the city. Through this story, Lahiri sheds light on the hardships faced by marginalized communities and the resilience that emerges from adversity.

ROMAN STORIES

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Torment of Dark-Skinned People

Lahiri delves into the disturbing reality of random acts of cruelty towards dark-skinned people in several stories throughout the collection. Children, in particular, are often the perpetrators of these acts. Through these narratives, Lahiri exposes the ugliness of prejudice and the lasting impact it can have on individuals.

The Steps

“The Steps” is a central story in the collection, focusing on seven characters who are observed on an ancient staircase comprising 126 travertine steps in the middle of town. Each character is presented in their own story, allowing readers to glimpse into their lives and experiences. Through this narrative structure, Lahiri explores the diversity and interconnectedness of individuals within a community.

Characters on the Ancient Staircase

Within “The Steps,” Lahiri introduces various characters who each have their own unique stories. From the mother to the widow, the expat wife to the girl, and the two brothers to the screenwriter, Lahiri presents a tapestry of individuals with their own joys, sorrows, struggles, and hopes. Through these vignettes, she captures the complexities of human existence and the beauty that can be found in everyday lives.

ROMAN STORIES

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The Mother

In “The Mother,” Lahiri focuses on the experiences and emotions of a mother within the context of the ancient staircase. Through her story, Lahiri offers a glimpse into the joys and challenges of motherhood, emphasizing the sacrifices and unconditional love that mothers often embody.

The Widow

“The Widow” explores the grief and loneliness of a woman who has lost her partner. Lahiri delves into the complexities of mourning and the journey towards healing. This story reflects on the concept of loss and the different ways individuals navigate through it.

The Expat Wife

Lahiri illuminates the life of an expat wife, someone who finds herself in a foreign country due to her spouse’s work. Through this character, Lahiri delves into the complexities of identity, isolation, and the search for belonging. The story explores the experience of living in a place that feels both familiar and foreign at the same time.

The Girl

In “The Girl,” Lahiri presents the perspective of a young girl growing up amidst different cultures and languages. Through her eyes, Lahiri explores themes of identity, childhood innocence, and the process of self-discovery. This story captures the universal experiences of youth and the impact of societal norms on individual growth.

Two Brothers

Lahiri delves into the bond between siblings in “Two Brothers.” Through the experiences of these two characters, she explores the complexities and dynamics of brotherhood. The story offers insights into familial relationships and the ways in which siblings shape each other’s lives.

The Screenwriter

“The Screenwriter” delves into the creative process and the struggles faced by an aspiring writer. Lahiri explores themes of artistic expression, ambition, and the desire for recognition. Through this character, she delves into the depths of human aspirations and the pursuit of one’s passion.

Dante Alighieri

In “Dante Alighieri,” Lahiri reflects on the loss of a friend during a mother-in-law’s funeral. Through this introspective narrative, she contemplates the nature of memory and its connection to other losses and distances. This story delves into the complexities of grief and the power of friendship in providing solace during times of loss.

Reflecting on Loss

Lahiri’s collection of stories invites readers to reflect on various forms of loss, both physical and emotional. Through her poignant narratives, she captures the depth of human emotions and the lasting impact of loss on individuals and communities. These stories prompt readers to contemplate the complexities of mourning and the ways in which loss shapes our lives.

The Beauty of the City

In the final story of the collection, Lahiri explores the paradoxical beauty of the city. Despite its flaws and imperfections, the city holds a certain allure and charm. Lahiri captures the essence of Rome, showcasing its unique blend of history, culture, and vibrant energy. Through this story, she reminds readers of the enduring beauty that can be found even in the midst of challenging circumstances.

Lahiri’s “Roman Stories” offers a captivating exploration of human experiences and emotions within the context of Rome. From the boundaries that separate individuals to the proceeding journey of life, Lahiri’s collection delves into the complexities of the human condition. Through her masterful storytelling, she invites readers on a journey filled with introspection, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the beauty that can be found in everyday life.

Source: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jhumpa-lahiri/roman-stories/