Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
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, I n 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.
Machine generated contents note: The Crossing -- The Dictionary -- Love At First Sight -- Exile -- The Conversations -- The Renunciation -- Reading With A Dictionary -- Gathering Words -- The Diary -- The Story -- The Exchange -- The Fragile Shelter -- Impossibility -- Venice -- The Imperfect -- The Hairy Adolescent -- The Second Exile -- The Wall -- The Triangle -- The Metamorphosis -- Plumbing The Depths -- The Scaffolding -- Half-Light.
At heart, this is 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.
Parallel text in English and Italian. Translated from the Italian.
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Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Lahiri (creative writing, Princeton Univ.) is internationally renowned for her novels The Namesake and The Lowland, her Pulitzer Prize-winning story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, and other writings. This new memoir, which the author wrote in Italian, is a great surprise. There's a second surprise, too: the English translation, here presented opposite the Italian, on every recto, by Goldstein (a New Yorker editor who has translated Elena Ferrante and Primo Levi, among others). The book is a series of journal entries that meditate upon Lahiri's frustrations and joys while learning Italian, and her growing desire to use that language only. It delves deeply into the author's relationship with languages generally-as the American-raised daughter of Indian immigrants, her Italian experiment is not the first time she's been caught between two linguistic worlds, accepted by neither. Students of other languages will nod in recognition as Lahiri describes her growing hostility toward English, a tongue she begins to find "overbearing, domineering, full of itself." VERDICT This unusual memoir is a must for language learners exploring their motivations; it will also resonate with Lahiri's fans and other literary fiction lovers. [See Prepub Alert, 8/24/15.]-Henrietta Verma, formerly with Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Lahiri, the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of Interpreter of Maladies, tries her hand at memoir-and audiobook narration-with this brief recounting of her quest to immerse herself in the Italian language. She tells of her initial passion for learning Italian, her third language after Bengali and English, and her decision to move her husband and two children to Rome for the full experience. In the print version of this memoir, which Lahiri wrote in Italian, Lahiri's Italian words and their English translation are side by side on facing pages; here, she narrates the entire memoir in English before doing it all over again in Italian, starting in the third compact disc. In English, Lahiri makes for a quiet and unassuming narrator. Her emotional register feels monochromatic even when she is giving voice to her deepest longings, and the performance falls flat, particularly during the very short pieces of fiction she weaves in: every character sounds the same. Speaking in Italian, however, her voice takes on added depth and fervor. It's not just that her accent is flawless but that Italian allows her access to a more avid, colorful, uninhibited version of herself. This is what she tells listeners during the English chapters that open the book, but the truth of it is not apparent until they hear the story told all over again in the language of her choosing. A Knopf hardcover. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Celebrated short story writer and novelist Lahiri (The Lowland, 2013) presents her first book of nonfiction and first book not written in English. The why and how of this radical change in her literary life is the primary theme in this arresting, intricate, bilingual chronicle of a daring experiment. Lahiri experienced her first linguistic complication as a girl when her family left Calcutta for America, where she spoke Bengali at home and English everywhere else. She fell in enchanted love with Italian as a graduate student and pursued this ardor for years without achieving fluency. So she decided to move to Rome with her husband and young children so that she could live and breathe Italian. Lahiri writes lithely and perceptively about being a linguistic pilgrim and her first attempt to write in Italian: I've never felt so stupid. It is acutely disorienting for a writer to lose her facility with language, which was the jolt and challenge Lahiri felt she needed to take a new artistic approach. Indeed, there is a cadence of discovery in these elegantly turned, metaphor-inlaid essays, while the two short stories Lahiri includes present us with a pared-down, more direct, more universal voice. A richly meditative, revealing, and involving linguistic autobiography about language and the self, creativity, risk, and metamorphosis. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lahiri's acclaim and popularity ensure avid interest in her first autobiographical book and its tale of creative audacity.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2015 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
In a perfectly titled memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist chronicles her efforts to learn and write Italian. Lahiri (The Lowland, 2013, etc.), who wrote and published her text in Italian in 2015, now presents an English translation (by Goldstein) with Italian and English on facing pages. For Lahiri, Italian was her third languageher mother spoke Bengaliand she relates in engaging detail the reasons she felt drawn to Italian, her many difficulties learning it, her struggles with writing, and her move to Rome to write. As she acknowledges near the end, and suggests elsewhere, her work is thick with metaphor; continually, she tries to find effective comparisons. A swim across a lake, an avalanche, a mountain-climb, a journey, a map, a bridge, maternitythese and numerous others describe her learning and her difficulties. A most affecting later chapter, "The Wall," deals with a discomfort felt (and caused) by many: Lahiri doesn't "look" Italian, so Romans and others treated her oddly, even insultingly, at times. She notes that similar experiences happened in the United States. Even though she's known English since childhoodand has written award-winning novels in the languagesome Americans look at her with a kind of mistrust. Lahiri does not ever get too detailed about the specifics of her learning, although there are paragraphs about vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. She is more interested in the effects of all of this on her writing and on her identity. Her memoir is also chockablock with memorable comments about writing and language. "Why do I write?" she asks. "To investigate the mystery of existence. To tolerate myself. To get closer to everything that is outside of me." At the end, she returns to America but wonders if she will now write again in English. An honest, self-deprecating, and very moving account of a writer searching for herself in words. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.