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All books  Biography
Title:  In Other Words
Binding:  Paperback
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101947659
ISBN-13: 9781101947654

Product Dimensions: 
5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
Category(ies) :  Biography
Shipping weights: 
Price: RMB200.00
Reading level : 
In Other Words is a revelation. It 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 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. 

Presented in a dual-language format, this is a wholly original book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.


Publisher Comments
SPACING: normal; COLOR: rgb(51,51,51); WORD-SPACING: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px"> in Italian. Her original text and Ann Goldstein's English translation are on facing pages, reinforc[ing] that this is as much a work of poetry as prose . . . The Lahiri in these pages is at a crossroads. In Other Words is the portrait of a writer who now yearns to break free.” —Michael Magras, Minneapolis StarTribune
“Compelling . . . moving and true, original and evocative . . . In Other Words marks a fundamental shift in Lahiri’s career. This memoir chronicles her bold linguistic transformation and the personal and creative renewal that followed . . . In Other Words shares many of the themes of Lahiri’s fiction: alienation, uprooting, and assimilating, the difficulties of adapting to a new culture . . . What is most impressive is her commitment to change. In the memoir, we find an author who understands that the best writing does not only change characters on the page, but affects the writer and the reader. Perhaps it is those altering revelations—the ones that move us beyond the comfort of the known—that bring us closer to a cohesive sense of self.” —Hilary Reid, Brooklyn Rail

“Lahiri is a master of language. In Other Words is her tale of falling in love with Italian. Her account is all passion. She’s so committed to her new tongue that she declined to translate it into English; the job has gone to Ann Goldstein, a fellow Italophile whose translation credits include all seven Elena Ferrante novels; she is lauded as part of the reason the series has been so successful in the U.S. Lahiri’s original Italian runs side by side with Goldstein’s English in this linguistic memoir . . . In Goldstein’s capable hands, the combination of styles evokes simple sophistication . . . A quiet coming of age—both a liberation from the constraints of perfectionism, and a meditation on new beginnings.” —Sarah Begley, TIME
“When people say that learning a language is like falling in love, they only seem to remember the honeymoon period. But in her new memoir, Lahiri reminds us that the courtship of a new idiom entails the same jealousy, desire, and heartbreak as the courtship of a new lover. [And] there is a grander project Lahiri has in mind: fashioning a new self out of words . . . Italian gives Lahiri the freedom to err: she can experiment, revel in her new linguistic identity—play. In order to evolve as a writer, the freedom afforded by an alien tongue was necessary—even if, or precisely because, she will inevitably make mistakes. Lahiri trades English for Italian to inaugurate a new phase of her career, for ‘from a creative point of view there is nothing so dangerous as security’ . . . In Other Words is a parallel text whose left-hand pages are in Italian and right-hand pages are in English. Two parts of her identity, set in opposition, riven down the center of the book . . . In Other Words is Lahiri’s most interesting book.” —Shaj Mathew, New Republic

“Exhilarating, elegant . . . meticulously crafted. In her first book of nonfiction, not content to write with her sword hand, English, Jhumpa Lahiri chooses the disorientation, the vulnerability, of speaking, reading, writing and thinking in a language she barely knows but has fallen madly in love with: Italian. During three years in Rome, she embraces linguistic exile—and finds that, writing in Italian, she has ‘the freedom to be imperfect.’ The restraint provides a way to be amazed by language all over again, ultimately producing the same precise, layered metaphors found in her prize-winning fiction. Can returning to a state of perpetual, profound curiosity open a new creative vein? Near the end of the book, Lahiri writes, ‘It’s not possible to become another writer, but it might be possible to become two.’ As readers, we’ll take as many Jhumpa Lahiris as we can get.” —Heather Harpham,More

“Incantatory: an adventurous, disciplined, and discovery-laden exercise in linguistic ardor; an unconventional autobiography that has the Dionysian drama of a quest saga and the Apollonian tidiness of a primer. In Other Words allows you to witness a beloved, hugely successful scribe give birth to a new, untested, uncertain yet determined authorial self . . . The book’s chapters unfold as a series of thoughtful reflections: her long courtship of Italian; the discoveries she makes and discomforts she feels during her self-imposed exile; her challenging upbringing . . . An intricately structured and gorgeously spun whirligig of a memoir.” —Lisa Shea, Elle 
“Lovely, frank, fascinating—personal and startling . . . a record of creative and linguistic restlessness, the culmination of an encounter that Lahiri likens to love at first sight . . . Lahiri’s infatuation with Italian deepened into romantic attachment and then utter devotion . . . In Other Words proceeds from [a] freedom and embrace of imperfection, its story [one] of flight, struggle, and regeneration, metamorphosis. Writing in Italian has offered Lahiri a clean slate on which to engage with language, with no room for old hang-ups about what good or virtuous writing is, how great stories work, the best way to capture and deliver the world. There is a kind of clarity, a new and necessary pressure to figure out what one really has—what one absolutely needs—to say.  This pressure has carried Lahiri away not just from English but from toward autobiography. She reflects on feeling more protected in Italian, despite being left more exposed—a compelling paradox for any artist. It may not be a coincidence that [Italian] is a language in which pronouns commonly disappear into their verbs; in which a writer might inhabit fully the act of writing, harmonize with it, each transforming the other; in which the doer and the doing become one.” —Michelle Orange, Bookforum

“An emotionally risky literary journey. In Other Words is a departure. For one thing, it’s a memoir, [and] Lahiri has been famous as a fiction writer since she won the Pulitzer Prize for Interpreter of Maladies. Though she has published personal essays, she’s never probed her own creativity and emotional process in such depth or with such bracing candor. Lahiri describes In Other Words as the ‘linguistic autobiography’ of a writer seeking a new voice, but it is also a kind of travel book that charts a personal pilgrimage between Italy and America . . . The dichotomy [of English and Italian] turns out, in the course of this brave meditation, to be a love story and a mystery all in one. In that story lies the beginning of all the books that the author has not yet written. As Lahiri describes it, ‘In learning Italian I learned, again, to write.” —John Burnham Schwartz, The Wall Street Journal
“It takes courage for a writer as successful as Lahiri to publish in an acquired language . . . It’s her way of becoming another writer—one with the freedom and latitude that goes with being unskilled and unknown, if only to herself . . . No one would deny that a native speaker has capacities and instincts that the learner flails at, and Lahiri does a lovely job of documenting the effort it takes to get hold of these—or fail to do so. And yet, as she is surely aware, for a writer it is impossible to be truly at home in language. As soon as you stop to consider how to say, you have ceased to be natural; you have become, if not foreign, then a little estranged. Writing always arrives late, runs after, falls behind, rearranges what was just put in place. It reveals the restlessness of language itself, in all its shifting multicolored variety.” —Christine Smallwood, Harper’s

“In this slim, lyrical nonfiction debut, Pulitzer-winner Lahiri traces the progress of her love affair with the Italian language. Unlike Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Nabokov, who also wrote in adopted languages, Lahiri doesn’t leap directly into fiction. Though the book contains a short story, her first order of business is to tell her own story. She writes exquisitely about her experiences with language . . . Her unexpected metamorphosis provides a captivating and insightful lesson in the power of language to transform.” —Publishers Weekly, Book of the Week

“Affecting, engaging . . . In a perfectly titled memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist chronicles her efforts to learn and write Italian. Lahiri, who wrote her text in Italian, presents an English translation (by Ann Goldstein) with Italian and English on facing pages. For Lahiri, Italian was her third language—her mother spoke Bengali—and she relates the reasons she felt drawn to Italian, her many difficulties learning it, and her move to Rome to write . . . Although there are paragraphs about vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, Lahiri 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 get closer to everything that is outside of me.’ An honest, self-deprecating, and very moving account of a writer searching for herself in words.” —Kirkus (starred review)

About the Author
JHUMPA LAHIRI is the author of four widely acclaimed works of fiction: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland. She has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize; the PEN/Hemingway Award; the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award; the Premio Gregor von Rezzori; the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature; a 2014 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama; and the Premio Internazionale Viareggio-Versilia, for this book.

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