In Other Words
There are some authors I biased toward, it’s true. And Jhumpa Lahiri definitely falls into that category, so with her new book, In Other Words, I pre-ordered my copy last month as soon as I heard it was coming out, and knew before it even made its way into my hands, I was going to be fond of this one.
I must be on a small Italian kick, after last month’s book review, and now this one, which is a bilingual memoir originally written in Italian and translated into English (by the fabulous Ann Goldstein, translator of the Ferrante writings). The Italian accompanies the English, side by side, just as the languages did in Lahiri’s own life for the longest time, until she took the leap. To fully leave the English language (and culture) behind and head over seas, with her family in tow, to indulge in her life long passion to truly learn and speak Italian.
The book is like a delicious warm plate of Italian pasta, so comforting and fulfilling, especially so for anyone who has studied abroad, dived head first into another immersive culture and language. So I felt as if a I was reading a journal entry from one of my old study abroad girlfriends. And in addition to describing the path toward language empowerment, Lahiri addresses her position as a writer in the world and one who has always felt distant from ever language she’s been shaped by.
Also accompanying the short journal like chapters are two short fiction pieces, the first two Lahiri wrote in Italian. They’re like short dreams, really, attempts at dipping one’s toes in crafting fiction with different words, different constructs, something not quite in technicolor yet, but black and white. They’re lovely in their own way with the brevity playing as a strength to the pieces. They were pieces that peaked my interest to see what else she has up her sleeve as far as Italian fiction, as I hear a novel is in the works. . . since she states it herself, despite moving back to the United States, she has decided to continue to forge ahead and only write in Italian. Odd to most, but to her, it makes complete sense for freedom and challenge she has finally found once again in the pursuit of art and language.