Title : In other words
Author : Jhumpa Lahiri
ISBN : 9781101875551
Publisher : Knopf
Genre : Non-fiction
Pages : 233
Source : Self
Rating : 5 stars
Jhumpa Lahiri is back with her debut nonfiction and it doesn’t fail to impress. Lahiri has taken her passion for the art and beauty of language to an unparalleled degree of exploration with this book. What makes it more interesting is the fact that this is actually a translated version- the book is originally written by her in Italian and it is all about her experience, struggle, fear, apprehension and the roller coaster ride with a new language while trying to master writing in it.
Ms Lahiri started her Italian journey in the US where she lived. Her Italian lessons and a short visit to Italy, led to her and her family’s eventual relocation to Rome, Italy. Shortly after her arrival she decided to write only in Italian.
The book is about an intense love affair – a love affair with a language, a total infatuation with Italian. For the first time Lahiri’s book is autobiographical. The book is not only about Lahiri’s love for the Italian language but also a search of identity and of finding a new voice in literature. She perceives language as a family member, at times a parent and then a sibling.
Lahiri recounts her journey with great honesty and candor, revealing how vulnerable, insecure, and uncertain she felt along the way. Even with all she has given to learning the language, Lahiri shares her trepidation that her Italian will forever be inadequate and ungraspable, but her expressiveness in the language is quite profound.
The book is a meditation on Lahiri’s sense of divided self, Bengali through her parents, American through her upbringing.
While you read her account, you can’t help but applaud the author for the amount of efforts and diligence she has put (and perhaps still putting) to write fluently in Italian and also the book very vividly describes her frustration and exasperation at various points of time while she takes the humongous task.
Being a language aficionado, I loved every bit of it and will surely recommend it to everyone. The book is incredibly inspiring.