Author(s): Jhumpa Lahiri; Ann Goldstein (Translator)
In Other Words 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, full mastery had always eluded her. So in 2012, seeking full immersion, she decided to uproot herself, her husband and two children, and move to Rome for 'a trial by fire, a sort of baptism' into a new world and way of being.
Over the course of three years, Lahiri read, spoke, wrote - even in her journal - solely in Italian, slowly beginning to feel she could not only communicate in Italian, but fully express herself, even in fiction. In spare and luminous prose, and drawing, too, on Lahiri's parent's own experiences with another culture when they first came to America, In Other Words explores the often emotionally fraught links between identity and language. It is a book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Nabokov.
A startling act of self-reflection; a powerful exploration of a surprising, life-changing passion; and a provocative, piercingly eloquent book that showcases a remarkable writer's signature gifts, it is her most intimate, revealing and exciting book to date.
From the bestselling Booker Prize shortlisted author: a stunning non-fiction debut, written in Italian: a memoir about her encounters living, speaking and writing in a language not her own - her most intimate, revealing and exciting book to date.
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
Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of four works of fiction: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award. She has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the Premio Gregor von Rezzori, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, a 2014 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, and the Premio Internazionale Viareggio-Versilia for In altre parole. Ann Goldstein is an editor at The New Yorker. She has translated works by, among others, Elena Ferrante, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Primo Levi, Giacomo Leopardi, and Alessandro Baricco, and is the editor of the Complete Works of Primo Levi in English. She has been the recipient of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and awards from the Italian Foreign Ministry and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.