Jhumpa Lahiri’s “In Other Words” is a beautiful memoir- an experience of learning Italian. It is a dedication to the most romantic language in the world.
Since I am learning Italian I could relate to many of the things she does and says in the book that its almost unbelievable yet true. There were parts in the book where it almost seems like she is talking about my experience of learning the language. I could feel her sense of helplessness as well as her passion. I could even feel her frustrations and achievements.
In Other Words is an honest and lyrical confession of her ups and downs while learning Italian.
There were certain passages in the book that resonated with me more than others. What I felt was simply a yearning to visit Italy again, to hear the language, to speak it, to understand it better….
When she talks about learning the language:
“Because in the end to learn a language, to feel connected to it, to have a dialogue, however childlike however imperfect.”
When she talks about Florence:
“I love this trip. I go out of the house leaving behind the rest of my life. Each time it feels like a small flight.”
When she talks about reading Italian:
“I find that reading in another language is more intimate, we don’t come from the same place, from the same family.”
When she gets restless while learning:
“Often, awake and restless in the middle of the night, I go to the desk to compose some paragraphs in Italian. It is absolutely a secret project.”
When she reads in Italian:
“When I read in Italian, I feel like a guest, a traveller.”
-“Maybe because in Italian I have the freedom to be imperfect”
When she explain Venice:
-“My writing in Italian is just like a bridge, something constructed, fragile. English flows under my feet”.
When she talks about publishing the book in Italian:
-“In Other Words will now have an identity independent of me. The first readers will be Italians; it will be found, first, in Italian bookstores. In time it will be translated, transformed.”
Thank you, Jhumpa Lahiri for this wonderful memoir. It made me feel more connected to Italian than ever. I hope that someday I will write in this language which has me smitten, a language that has touched my soul.