This essay develops a poetics of microfinance through an attempt to account for Jhumpa Lahiri's strange mention of the Grameen Bank in the short story “Sexy” from her collection Interpreter of Maladies. It shows how Lahiri's allusion links the intimacy of simulated global space to a central development in contemporary transnational economics. Exploring the discourses promulgated by the Grameen Bank and Kiva, a successful nonprofit microcredit organization based out of San Francisco, the essay reveals what makes microfinance seductive as a form of aid. The poetics of microfinance offers subjects a model through which they can link interpersonal intimacy to global financial projects. Lahiri's story features a scale model of the globe in a building called the Mapparium. The Mapparium is a simulacrum that produces the illusion of global intimacy, which emerges from the frisson of feeling both central and close to everywhere, a sense of nearness across distance. This essay argues that microfinance institutions such as Kiva use the poetics of microfinance to bridge bodily affect with abstract finance, thereby profiting from the further immiseration of the world's poor.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.