The first time I fell in love with Jhumpa Lahiri's words was when I'd read "Remembrance of Things Psssst: Confessions of a Fragrance Fanatic" in the December 2000 issue of Allure magazine. This essay was much more than the typical advertisement passed off as a fragrance article; it was a very poignant, personal essay telling the story of how intertwined perfume and life as an immigrant balancing herself between two countries can be. It moved me because her writing was so beautiful, sincere and her characters so graceful and full of life, but I also related to her perspectives being bicultural and having immigrant parents. If you're a perfume lover, I highly recommend tracking down this essay; it's absolutely worth reading, and you'll never smell Nina and Enjoli again without thinking about her heartwarming story.
The search for cultural identity is a central theme in Jhumpa Lahiri's writings. Jhumpa Lahiri won the 2000 Pulitzer for her collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, then went on to write The Namesake (2003), her first novel; the movie, also called The Namesake (PG-13), is in theatres now and is based on this novel. I saw it last night and it was marvelous! I'm not going to spoil it for you but suffice it to say that the cinematography set between New York City and Calcutta (and other parts of India) is just as breathtaking as the depictions of each character presented with such loving care and integrity. It's nice to know good movies are still being made.