Belinda’s Book Nook Review: In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri


Title: In Other Words
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Copyright: February 9, 2016
Genre: fiction
Format: book & audio book  Pages: 233 Translator: Ann Goldstein

I own several of Jhumpa Lahiri’s books and have yet to read one. But this one was in the new book section at our library and I thought it was a fine time to read it. I had the audiobook on hold from Overdrive and it came in the same day I came home from the library. If that’s not a sign! So I began reading and switched back and forth. The format is so unusual – it is called a dual-language format. So on one page she wrote in Italian and the interpreter translated it into English on each facing page. So you can look back and forth to see the Italian equivalents throughout the book. The audio version reads the entire book in English first and then again in Italian.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the Pulitzer Prize winner, a surprising, powerful, and eloquent nonfiction debut

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. And although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery had always eluded her. So in 2012, seeking full immersion, she decided to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world.

In Rome, Lahiri began 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.

My thoughts:

My mom could speak some Italian from the years she lived there and I always wanted to learn. I was doing great trying to teach myself and I even took an adult class several years ago. But then life seemed to put that goal on hold. So when I read about this book, I was intrigued to see her reasons for learning and her thoughts about how to learn a language.

I was impressed how her family picked up and moved with her to Italy to pursue her desire to learn the language. She spoke a lot about the need to be immersed in the language and how learning in America didn’t really prepare her as much as she once thought when she was among native speakers. She also explored the immigrant experience. How she always feels like an outsider whether she is in America or in Italy. Wanting to fit in but never quite feeling it. This is such an interesting an prevalent topic in books as of late and I am always interested in the different perspectives.

Overall, I felt it was a good book and happy I did pick it up. I still love the thought of learning a language but must focus on my current endeavors. I give this book three butterflies.

Happy reading!3rating

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