‘A Temporary Matter’ by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is another story about husbands and wives and how they succeed and fail to communicate with each other. I read this at a period in my life when I’d begun to think all relationships between men and women were doomed (this tends to happen when you’re about 25). Like Roberts, Lahiri explores the slowly disintegrating marriage between a South-Indian couple in the USA through the use of ordinary, domestic detail. She shifts subtly between the two perspectives, employing a light-touch on a heavy subject. It’s a beautiful portrait of a couple in crisis that quietly suggests that there are some things that no marriage can overcome.

First published in The New Yorker, April 20, 1998. Collected in The Interpreter of Maladies, Houghton Mifflin/Flamingo, 1999