The Basics: Born in London to two parents from West Bengal, she moved to America when she was two. She grew up in Rhode Island and it was there she got her nickname of Jhumpa from a teacher. A recipient of multiple degrees, Jhumpa has taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Her short story worked faced rejection for years but her first collection was finally released in 1999. That book, Interpreter of Maladies, received the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her work focuses on the struggles of Bengali communities and Indian American groups first moving to America and the trials they face upon arrival here.
Why I Chose Them: I was first exposed to Jhumpa Lahiri in college and I absolutely loved her work. Her writing was powerful and made you understand the difficulties facing a group of people you might not know a great deal about. Writers like her are the reason we need books and the reason we all need to make reading a part of our daily routines. Reading is that thing that draws upon and develops your empathy skills. When you can empathize with another culture and find yourself in it, that is how bridges to understanding are built. Writers like Lahiri are our architects.