Mon, 12 September 2022
19:00 – 20:00 BST
The birthday candles had burned out, but he pictured her face clearly in the dark, the wide tilting eyes, the full grape-toned lips, the fall at age two from her high chair still visible as a comma on her chin. Each day, Shukumar noticed, her beauty, which had once overwhelmed him, seemed to fade. The cosmetics that had seemed superfluous were necessary now, not to improve her but to define her somehow.
We can’t wait to welcome to you to our September short story club to discuss Jhumpa Lahiri’s quietly powerful story, A Temporary Matter.
First published in The New Yorker in April 1998, A Temporary Matter tells the story of husband and wife, Shukamar and Shoba, who tell each other secrets during five days of nightly blackouts in their Boston neighbourhood. Having grown apart during a period of intense grieving for their baby, these nightly conversations go some way to restoring what has been lost.
Somehow, without saying anything, it had turned into this. Into an exchange of confessions — the little ways they’d hurt or disappointed each other, and themselves.
This intricately balanced story is narrated from the perspective of husband Shukamar, who is helpless in the face of his wife’s grief. The story explores the impact of a devastating loss on a relationship. A change in circumstances – in this case, the blackouts – provides an opportunity for the couple to save their failing marriage, but the secrets they share are destructive, too.
Jhumpa Lahiri is a contemporary author of short stories, novels and essays. She was born in London, in 1967, to Bengali parents and then raised in the USA. She won a Pullitzer Prize for her first book, The Interpreter of Maladies (1999), a collection of short stories. Her second collection, Unaccustomed Earth (2008), won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her novel The Namesake (2003) was made into a film, while The Lowland (2013) was a Man Booker Prize finalist. In 2011, Lahiri moved to Rome and began writing in Italian, publishing works including In Altre Parole (In Other Words) and Dove mi Trovo. In 2014, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal.
(Interpreter of Maladies (nytimes.com))
Farhana Khalique is a writer, voiceover artist and teacher from south-west London. Her writing has appeared in Best Small Fictions 2022, 100 Voices, This is Our Place and more. She has been shortlisted for The Asian Writer Short Story Prize and she is a former Word Factory Apprentice. Farhana is also a submissions editor at SmokeLong Quarterly and at Litro, and she is the editor of Desi Reads. Find Farhana @HanaKhalique and www.farhanakhalique.com
Emily Devane is a writer, teacher and editor. Her short fiction is widely published, most recently in Janus Literary, New Flash Fiction Review, Best Microfictions (2021), Smokelong Quarterly, Bath Short Story Award Anthology (2021), and Ambit. She has won the Bath Flash Fiction Award, a Northern Writers’ Award, has been twice shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She was shortlisted for the Mogford Prize (2022) and recently won second prize in the Bath Short Story Award (2022). Emily is a former Word Factory Apprentice. She teaches creative writing workshops and courses (@MoorWords) and is an editor at historical flash fiction journal @FlashBackFiction. Find her on Twitter @DevaneEmily.