Jhumpa Lahiri's debut collection of stories, published in 1999, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Hemingway/PEN Award in 2000, and several of the stories appeared in The New Yorker. The title is taken from one of the stories in the collection which, like all the stories, explores the lives and loves of Indians in their native land and in their adopted, Western homes.
The book was a critical and commercial success, and was lauded for the powerful storytelling and elegant themes of the work. Lahiri writes eloquently about the immigrant experience and about the divide between cultures, examining both the difficulties and joys of assimilation. These immensely personal stories form, in one critic's opinion, a story cycle. Overarching themes and narrative styles culminate in an exploration of the Indian and Indian-American experience, through the eyes of a multitude of characters grappling with themes of identity, ethnicity, love, and culture.
Lahiri's other major works, The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth, draw upon similar themes of assimilation and love. Her work paints a comprehensive portrait of the varying experiences of people everywhere who grapple with their identity.