This speaks to me. From Isaac Chotiner’s 2008 Atlantic interview with Jhumpa Lahiri:
One critic who reviewed your first book said that your prose is extremely un-self-conscious and not showy. Without making a judgment on that, do you think he was correct?
I like it to be plain. It appeals to me more. There’s form and there’s function and I have never been a fan of just form. My husband and I always have this argument because we go shopping for furniture and he always looks at chairs that are spectacular and beautiful and unusual, and I never want to get a chair if it isn’t comfortable. I don’t want to sit around and have my language just be beautiful. If you read Nabokov, who I love, the language is beautiful but it also makes the story and is an integral part of the story. Even now in my own work, I just want to get it less—get it plainer. When I rework things I try to get it as simple as I can.
Do you have any desire to write a huge, panoramic novel?
I don’t think so. I don’t think I’m an effusive writer. My writing tends not to expand but to contract. If I do write more novels, I think they’ll be more streamlined and concentrated.
That fits into what you were saying about your prose style, right?
Maybe. Yes. I don’t like excess. When a great sweeping work is great, what makes it great is that there’s no excess.
[Photo Credit: Camille Van Horne]