“Lahiri traces the origins, tribulations, and tiny victories that have fueled her decades-long courtship with the Italian language in a bilingual memoir that reads more like an intimate diary. The chapters and short stories offer a vivid timeline of Lahiri's turbulent relationship with language, bouncing around from English to Bengali during her childhood, immersing herself in the Italian culture by moving her family overseas, and finally attempting to write a book in a new voice. In Other Words is much more than an attempt -- at self-reflection and reinvention it's a mastery.”Carly Lenz, Boswell Book Company
From the best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner, a powerful nonfiction debut—an “honest, engaging, and very moving account of a writer searching for herself in words.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
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 afterward, true mastery always eluded her.
Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins 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.
Read by the Author, in both English and the original Italian
From the Compact Disc edition.
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