While Lahiri’s identity may remain obscured to readers, she is plainly known and acclaimed through her short stories and novels. She enthralls her readers with her deft storytelling and vivid evocations of intimate, close-up scenes, in which the most ordinary of details become devastating. The slow accumulation of concrete facts—voices, thoughts, actions—builds a world studded with salient moments and revelation. I am reminded of Gogol, her protagonist in The Namesake, who is powerfully affected as a young man after a visit to the Taj Mahal, “the marble mausoleum that glows gray and yellow and pink and orange depending on the light.” He decides to become an architect, savoring the details of buildings he encounters in America and India. In joining character to character and people to place with a seamless synthesis of language, she creates an articulate universe.
— Chris Busa
She doesn’t hold your hand in a painting by taking the viewer through friendly tiers of blazing color and light the way so many painters of the Cape light do. “I’m not interested,” she says. “I like nothing better than a good storm.” Her palette is reflective, earthy, stormy, and cool, calibrated to a certain naturalism and Packard’s own deeply private sensibility. Her paintings can be moody, briny, and achingly still, paired down to minimal abstraction, a vertical stack of sea and sky, and where they meet, the horizon, an indeterminate measure of the two. But the reason so many people get her paintings is not because of their adherence to an expressive realism, it’s because they feel them. A good Anne Packard you feel before you even really see it. The realism is emotional, existential, and mysteriously direct. Her work has been called
melancholy, but I find it not so much plaintive as truthful. As she likes to remind us, her paintings reside in solitude, but they’re never lonely or despairing. They are about one’s intimate relationship to nature, a conduit to a life force that stands outside of us.
— André van der Wende