‘Sudha had no fondness for her younger self, no sentimental affection for the way she had looked or the things she had done. What she felt was an overwhelming sense of regret, for what exactly she did not know. She had looked, of course, perfectly ordinary, her black hair worn in pigtails or braids, grown to her waist one year and cut like Dorothy Hamill’s the next. And she had done ordinary things: attended slumber parties and played clarinet in the school band and sold chocolate bars from door to door. And yet she could not forgive herself. Even as an adult, she wished only that she could go back and change things: the ungainly things she’d worn, the insecurity she’d felt, all the innocent mistakes she’d made.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Only Goodness, Unaccustomed Earth

‘He had bought the card off a rack at the hardware store where he had bought Akash’s swimming pool. The picture was a view of ferries on Elliott Bay, a sight he had not seen. In Europe he was always careful to buy postcards only of places he’d been to, feeling dishonest otherwise.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

‘But death, too, had the power to awe, she knew this now – that a human being could be alive for years and years, thinking and breathing and eating, full of a million worries and feelings and thoughts, taking up space in the world, and then, in an instant, become absent, invisible.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

‘There were times Ruma felt closer to her mother in death than she had in life, an intimacy born simply of thinking of her so often, of missing her. But she knew that this was an illusion, a mirage, and that the distance between them was now infinite, unyielding.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

‘Her father’s penmanship was small, precise, slightly feminine; her mother’s had been a jumble of capital and lowercase, as though she’d learned to make only one version of each letter.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

‘Imperfection inspires invention, imagination, creativity. It stimulates. The more I feel imperfect, the more I feel alive.’

― Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words

‘She was like that, excited and delighted by little things, crossing her fingers before any remotely unpredictable event, like tasting a new flavor of ice cream, or dropping a letter in a mailbox. It was a quality he did not understand. It made him feel stupid, as if the world contained hidden wonders he could not anticipate, or see.’

― Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

‘While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

‘I consider a book alive only during the writing. Afterward, at least for me, it dies.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words

‘What does a word mean? And a life? In the end, it seems to me, the same thing. Just as a word can have many dimensions, many nuances, great complexity, so, too, can a person, a life. Language is the mirror, the principal metaphor. Because ultimately the meaning of a word, like that of a person, is boundless, ineffable.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words

‘Why do I write? To investigate the mystery of existence. To tolerate myself. To get closer to everything that is outside of me.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words

‘And yet she didn’t want to kill herself. She loved the world too much, and people. She loved taking long walks in the late afternoon, and observing her surroundings. She loved the green of the sea, the light of dusk, the rocks scattered on the sand. She loved the taste of a red pear in autumn, the full, heavy winter moon that shone amid the clouds. She loved the warmth of her bed, a good book to read without being interrupted. To enjoy that, she would have lived forever.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words