Lahiri grew up in Rhode Island, the daughter of parents who emigrated from India. She graduated from Boston University with graduate degrees in English, creative writing, and comparative literature. While completing her Ph.D. in renaissance studies, Lahiri realized her desire to write eclipsed her ambitions to be a scholar. A major fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown proved life changing, and helped her to secure an agent, a book deal, and her first published story in The New Yorker. In 2000, Lahiri became the youngest recipient in the history of the Pulitzer Prizes to receive the award in fiction for her first collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies (1999). Her first novel, The Namesake, was published in 2003.