In Other Words
Jhumpa Lahiri, Ann Goldstein
In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterwards, true mastery had always eluded her.
Seeking full immersion, she decided to move to Rome with her family, for ‘a trial by fire, a sort of baptism’ into a new language and world. There, she began to read and to write – initially in her journal – solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.
Presented in a dual-language format, this is a wholly original book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.
The only book I read this year in English is The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I had never read anything of hers, and it was a wonderful surprise -- Elena Ferrante Jhumpa Lahiri's new novel is a testament to her abundant talents -- Khaled Hosseini One of the most impressive writers in the U.S. * Daily Mail * A writer of uncommon elegance and poise * New York Times * A writer of formidable powers and great depth of feeling * Observer * Immaculately constructed and a model of lucidity, well deserving of its place on the Man Booker shortlist * Mail on Sunday * A fascinating account of her linguistic exile -- Erica Wagner * Harper's Bazaar * Her Italian writing is personal, inward-looking, exploring identity and alienation, anatomising the state of mind of a writer who has more than one "mother tongue" ... This is essentially a literary memoir, a passionate love letter to language and to Italy ... This is a study of transformation - of a writer, and a woman who has forever been trying to improve herself ... For anyone remotely interested in grammar, the chapter on the minefield of Italian prepositions and the past imperfect makes entertaining reading. And there's no academic aridity; the spare, limpid prose of Lahiri's fiction permeates a bold and quirkily engaging self-portrait -- Lee Langley * Spectator *
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