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Jhumpa Lahiri is named director of the creative writing program at Princeton University

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The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University announced this week that Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri has been named the new director of the center’s program in creative writing.  

Lahiri, a professor of creative writing at Princeton since 2015, succeeds Tracy K. Smith, who has led the program since 2015 and was named chair of the Lewis Center in July.

Jhumpa Lahiri. Photo by Marco Delogu.

“Jhumpa Lahiri, one of the great writers of our time, is a truly galvanizing and empowering presence in the classroom,” Smith said in a written statement. “Our community is enriched by her commitments to the development of student writers, the practice of translation, and the wealth of literature being written in languages other than English. Jhumpa has also engaged in conversations around the intersection of literature and other art forms and disciplines. Under her directorship, the Creative Writing Program will enter an urgent and meaningful new phase.”

Born in London and raised in Rhode Island, Lahiri received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Barnard College. She earned a master’s degree in English, a master’s of fine arts in creative writing, a master’s degree in comparative literature, and a doctorate in renaissance studies from Boston University. She has taught creative writing at Boston University, Baruch College, Barnard College, The New School, and the Rhode Island School of Design.   

Lahiri received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for “Interpreter of Maladies,” her debut story collection. She is the author of “The Namesake,” “Unaccustomed Earth,” and “The Lowland,” a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award in fiction. Her fifth book, a collection of essays she wrote in Italian while living in Rome, is “In Altre Parole” (In Other Words). Her novel written in Italian, “Dove mi trovo,” was published in Italy last year. Her novel “The Namesake” was turned into a film in 2006 that was directed by Mira Nair.

She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the PEN/Hemingway Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Vallombrosa Von Rezzori Prize, the Asian American Literary Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She was awarded a 2014 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

The creative writing program will celebrate its 80th anniversary with appearances by 80 writers over the course of the coming academic year.

“At a time when words are used to falsify and divide, I am proud and inspired to direct a diverse and inclusive creative writing program that unites Princeton students with some of the world’s finest writers,” said Lahiri. “Never before has our faculty represented such a multitude of cultures, languages, and perspectives. This year not only marks the 80th anniversary of the program, but our continued determination to redefine the literary landscape.”

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

1 Comment

  1. Bully for her.

    Now can we please get back to tarring and feathering the incompetent Princeton council and mayor over the unconscionable failure of oversight that led to (yet more) corruption among workers and pollution in the town?

    Thanks.

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