Saturday, May 21, 2016

Book Review - In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

Cover blurb:  In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story – of a long and difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language.

Jhumpa Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, chose to move to Italy with her family. She immersed herself in the country, in the language, and then chose to write this book about her journey. She wrote it in Italian, her third language. She grew up in India, her native tongue Bengali. Her parents brought her to America and she learned English, becoming a scholar and award winning writer. But she always loved Italian and wanted to immerse herself in the language. Do you comprehend how difficult that is to do as an adult? To dabble in a new language is one thing. To learn it well enough to write a book in it is another. In turn, her original Italian version of this book was translated back to English by Ann Goldstein, a respected translator. Wow.

If you love words, writing, language, linguistics, learning, scholarship, perseverance, and more – then In Other Words is for you. I’ve always loved Lahiri’s writing – it’s quite lyrical and smooth. Her characters are rich and well developed. In this case, working in non-fiction memoir, her character is flawed and frustrated. She writes of her doubts as she tackles this project. She recognizes the risk she takes to put these words to paper – questions the quality. But she climbs the mountain of words, and while still aware of her baby steps, is proud to share the struggle.

Any writer will appreciate In Other Words – the writing, the process, the constant need to check a dictionary, the constant pruning and cajoling needed to finish a thought.
And you’ll want to travel to Italy….. Pronto


16 comments:

  1. Have you heard of the Read-the-World Challenge? You try to read one novel written by a native speaker for each of the 196 countries in the world. I'm up to about 46, I think. I know this doesn't exactly qualify but it sounds worth looking in to.

    @Kathleen01930 Blog

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  2. Wow. Sounds very interesting. Gives a world perspective

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  3. That takes some kind of skill indeed. Being able to write a book in a new language is beyond the cat lol unless meows count.

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  4. I admire anyone who takes on a foreign language at anyone age, let alone move to that country. Sounds like an interesting book.

    Betty

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    1. She is very skilled and interesting

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  5. Sounds like a charming book! I can't even imagine trying to write a book in a different language.

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    1. I have enough trouble with English!

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  6. I am so impressed by people who know more than one language. I can barely speak English intelligently. But, I do know Spanish for 'toilet.'
    It's 'toilet.'
    I hope.

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    1. Good job Al! Also dos cervezas will get you two beers

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  7. I am so impressed by people who know more than one language. I can barely speak English intelligently. But, I do know Spanish for 'toilet.'
    It's 'toilet.'
    I hope.

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  8. Hi Joanne - that sounds fascinating ... and it's on my wish list! Thanks for alerting us ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I think you will like it a lot as much as you enjoy language

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  9. I must confess I do not know this author but obviously writing a book in another language learnt as an adult gives us all hope that we can learn that little bit more ourselves - looks like I'll be learning those Portuguese phrases for Lisbon when I thought I might just speak English loudly!
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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    1. Always good to attempt the other language. Folks like when you try.

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  10. Thanks for the review! This sounds like one I would really enjoy.

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