In lowest sale Other Words online sale

In lowest sale Other Words online sale

In lowest sale Other Words online sale

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Product Description

National Best Seller

On a post-college visit to Florence, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri fell in love with the Italian language. Twenty years later, seeking total immersion, she and her family relocated to Rome, where she began to read and write solely in her adopted tongue. A startling act of self-reflection, In Other Words is Lahiri’s meditation on the process of learning to express herself in another language—and the stunning journey of a writer seeking a new voice.

Review

“Gorgeous. . . . Lahiri gives us the most unusual of self-portraits.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Exquisite. . . . Strikingly honest, lyrical, untouched by sentimentality. . . . The most evocative, unpretentious, astute account of a writing life I have read.” —Howard Norman, The Washington Post
 
“As much a work of poetry as prose. . . . Beautiful.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Magnificent. . . . [ In Other Words] puts one in the company of a beautiful mind engaged in a sustained and bracing discipline.” — Los Angeles Times

“Urgent and raw.” — O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“In Lahiri’s hands, these essays and stories become an invaluable insight into the craft of writing not as storytelling but as speaking the self into existence.” — San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A quiet coming of age. . . . Lahiri is a master of language.” — Time

About the Author

Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of four works of fiction:  Interpreter of MaladiesThe NamesakeUnaccustomed Earth, and  The Lowland; and a work of nonfiction,  In Other Words. She has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize; the PEN/Hemingway Award; the PEN/Malamud 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  In altre parole.
 
Ann Goldstein is an editor at The New Yorker. She has translated works by, among others, Elena Ferrante, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Primo Levi, Giacomo Leopardi, and Alessandro Baricco, and is the editor of The Complete Works of Primo Levi in English. She has been the recipient of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and awards from the Italian Foreign Ministry and from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

THE CROSSING
 
I want to cross a small lake. It really is small, and yet the other shore seems too far away, beyond my abilities. I’m aware that the lake is very deep in the middle, and even though I know how to swim I’m afraid of being alone in the water, without any support.
 
The lake I’m talking about is in a secluded, isolated place. To get there you have to walk a short distance, through a silent wood. On the other side you can see a cottage, the only house on the shore. The lake was formed just after the last ice age, millennia ago. The water is clear but dark, heavier than salt water, with no current. Once you’re in, a few yards from the shore, you can no longer see the bottom.
 
In the morning I observe people coming to the lake, as I do. I watch them cross it in a confident, relaxed manner, stop for some minutes in front of the cottage, then return. I count their arm strokes. I envy them. 
 
For a month I swim around the lake, never going too far out. This is a more significant distance—the circumference compared to the diameter. It takes me more than half an hour to make this circle. Yet I’m always close to the shore. I can stop, I can stand up if I’m tired. It’s good exercise, but not very exciting.
 
Then one morning, near the end of the summer, I meet two friends at the lake. I’ve decided to make the crossing with them, to finally get to the cottage on the other side. I’m tired of just going along the edge.
 
I count the strokes. I know that my companions are in the water with me, but I know that each of us is alone. After about a hundred and fifty strokes I’m in the middle, the deepest part. I keep going. After a hundred more I see the bottom again. 
 
I arrive on the other side: I’ve made it with no trouble. I see the cottage, until now distant, just steps from me. I see the small, faraway silhouettes of my husband, my children. They seem unreachable, but I know they’re not. After a crossing, the known shore becomes the opposite side: here becomes there. Charged with energy, I cross the lake again. I’m elated.
 
For twenty years I studied Italian as if I were swimming along the edge of that lake. Always next to my dominant language, English. Always hugging that shore. It was good exercise. Beneficial for the muscles, for the brain, but not very exciting. If you study a foreign language that way, you won’t drown. The other language is always there to support you, to save you. But you can’t float without the possibility of drowning, of sinking. To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore. Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.
 
A few weeks after crossing the small hidden lake, I make a second crossing, much longer but not at all difficult. It will be the first true departure of my life. On a ship this time, I cross the Atlantic Ocean, to live in Italy. 
 
 
THE DICTIONARY
 
The first Italian book I buy is a pocket dictionary, with the definitions in English. It’s 1994, and I’m about to go to Florence for the first time, with my sister. I go to a bookshop in Boston with an Italian name: Rizzoli. A stylish, refined bookshop, which is no longer there.
 
I don’t buy a guidebook, even though it’s my first trip to Italy, even though I know nothing about Florence. Thanks to a friend of mine, I already have the address of a hotel. I’m a student, I don’t have much money. I think a dictionary is more important.
 
The one I choose has a green plastic cover, indestructible, impermeable. It’s light, smaller than my hand. It has more or less the dimensions of a bar of soap. The back cover says that it contains around forty thousand Italian words. 
 
As we’re wandering through the Uffizi, amid galleries that are almost deserted, my sister realizes that she’s lost her hat. I open the dictionary. I go to the English-Italian part, to find out how to say “hat” in Italian. In some way, certainly incorrect, I tell a guard that we’ve lost a hat. Miraculously, he understands what I’m saying, and in a short time the hat is recovered.
 
Every time I’ve been to Italy in the many years since, I’ve brought this dictionary with me. I always put it in my purse. I look up words when I’m in the street, when I return to the hotel after an outing, when I try to read an article in the newspaper. It guides me, protects me, explains everything.
 
It becomes both a map and a compass, and without it I know I’d be lost. It becomes a kind of authoritative parent, without whom I can’t go out. I consider it a sacred text, full of secrets, of revelations. 
 
On the first page, at a certain point, I write:  “provare a = cercare di” (try to = seek to).
 
That random fragment, that lexical equation, might be a metaphor for the love I feel for Italian. Something that, in the end, is really a stubborn attempt, a continuous trial.
 
Nearly twenty years after buying my first dictionary, I decide to move to Rome for an extended stay. Before leaving, I ask a friend of mine, who lived in Rome for many years, if an electronic Italian dictionary, like a cell phone app, would be useful, for looking up a word at any moment. 
 
He laughs. He says, “Soon you’ll be living inside an Italian dictionary.”
 
He’s right. Slowly, after a couple of months in Rome, I realize that I don’t check the dictionary so often. When I go out, it tends to stay in my purse, closed. As a result I start leaving it at home. I’m aware of a turning point. A sense of freedom and, at the same time, of loss. Of having grown up, at least a little.
 
Today I have many other larger, more substantial dictionaries on my desk. Two of them are monolingual, without a word of English. The cover of the small one seems a little faded by now, a little dirty. The pages are yellowed. Some are coming loose from the binding. 
 
It usually sits on the night table, so that I can easily look up an unknown word while I’m reading. This book allows me to read other books, to open the door of a new language. It accompanies me, even now, when I go on vacation, on trips. It has become a necessity. If, when I leave, I forget to take it with me, I feel slightly uneasy, as if I’d forgotten my toothbrush or a change of socks.
 
By now this small dictionary seems more like a brother than like a parent. And yet it’s still useful to me, it still guides me. It remains full of secrets. This little book will always be bigger than I am.
 
 
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
 
In 1994, my sister and I decide to give ourselves a trip to Italy as a present, and we choose Florence. I’m in Boston, studying Renaissance architecture: Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel, the Laurentian Library of Michelangelo. We arrive in Florence at dusk, a few days before Christmas. My first walk is in the dark. I’m in an intimate, sober, joyful place. Shops decorated for the season. Narrow, crowded streets, some more like corridors than like streets. There are tourists like my sister and me, but not many. I see the people who have lived here forever. They walk quickly, indifferent to the buildings. They cross the squares without stopping.
 
I’ve come for a week, to see the buildings, to admire the squares, the churches. But from the start my relationship with Italy is as auditory as it is visual. Although there aren’t many cars, the city is humming. I’m aware of a sound that I like, of conversations, phrases, words that I hear wherever I go. As if the whole city were a theater in which a slightly restless audience is chatting before the show begins.
 
I hear the excitement of children wishing each other  buon Natale—merry Christmas—on the street. I hear the tenderness with which, one morning at the hotel, the woman who cleans the room asks me:  Avete dormito bene? Did you sleep well? When a man behind me on the sidewalk wants to pass, I hear the slight impatience with which he asks:  Permesso? May I? 
 
I can’t answer. I’m not able to have a dialogue. I listen. What I hear, in the shops, in the restaurants, arouses an instantaneous, intense, paradoxical reaction. It’s as if Italian were already inside me and, at the same time, completely external. It doesn’t seem like a foreign language, although I know it is. It seems strangely familiar. I recognize something, in spite of the fact that I understand almost nothing.
 
What do I recognize? It’s beautiful, certainly, but beauty doesn’t enter into it. It seems like a language with which I have to have a relationship. It’s like a person met one day by chance, with whom I immediately feel a connection, of whom I feel fond. As if I had known it for years, even though there is still everything to discover. I would be unsatisfied, incomplete, if I didn’t learn it. I realize that there is a space inside me to welcome it.
 
I feel a connection and at the same time a detachment. A closeness and at the same time a distance. What I feel is something physical, inexplicable. It stirs an indiscreet, absurd longing. An exquisite tension. Love at first sight. 
 
I spend the week in Florence very near Dante’s house. One day, I visit the small church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, where Beatrice’s tomb is. The beloved, the poet’s inspiration, forever unattainable. An unfulfilled love marked by distance, by silence.
 
I don’t have a real need to know this language. I don’t live in Italy, I don’t have Italian friends. I have only the desire. Yet ultimately a desire is nothing but a crazy need. As in many passionate relationships, my infatuation will become a devotion, an obsession. There will always be something unbalanced, unrequited. I’m in love, but what I love remains indifferent. The language will never need me.
 
At the end of the week, having seen many palazzi, many frescoes, I return to America. I bring with me postcards, little gifts, souvenirs of the trip. And yet the clearest, most vivid memory is something immaterial. When I think of Italy, I hear certain words again, certain phrases. I miss them. And missing them pushes me, slowly, to learn the language. I am impelled by desire and, at the same time, hesitant, timid. I ask of Italian, with a slight impatience:  Permesso? May I? 
 
 
EXILE
 
My relationship with Italian takes place in exile, in a state of separation.
 
Every language belongs to a specific place. It can migrate, it can spread. But usually it’s tied to a geographical territory, a country. Italian belongs mainly to Italy, and I live on another continent, where one does not readily encounter it.
 
I think of Dante, who waited nine years before speaking to Beatrice. I think of Ovid, exiled from Rome to a remote place. To a linguistic outpost, surrounded by alien sounds. 
 
I think of my mother, who writes poems in Bengali, in America. Almost fifty years after moving there, she can’t find a book written in her language.
 
In a sense I’m used to a kind of linguistic exile. My mother tongue, Bengali, is foreign in America. When you live in a country where your own language is considered foreign, you can feel a continuous sense of estrangement. You speak a secret, unknown language, lacking any correspondence to the environment. An absence that creates a distance within you.
 
In my case there is another distance, another schism. I don’t know Bengali perfectly. I don’t know how to read it, or even write it. I have an accent, I speak without authority, and so I’ve always perceived a disjunction between it and me. As a result I consider my mother tongue, paradoxically, a foreign language, too. 
 
As for Italian, the exile has a different aspect. Almost as soon as we met, Italian and I were separated. My yearning seems foolish. And yet I feel it.
 
How is it possible to feel exiled from a language that isn’t mine? That I don’t know? Maybe because I’m a writer who doesn’t belong 
 
How is it possible to feel exiled from a language that isn’t mine? That I don’t know? Maybe because I’m a writer who doesn’t belong completely to any language.
 
I buy a book. It’s called  Teach Yourself Italian. An exhortatory title, full of hope and possibility. As if it were possible to learn on your own. 
 
Having studied Latin for many years, I find the first chapters of this textbook fairly easy. I manage to memorize some conjugations, do some exercises. But I don’t like the silence, the isolation of the self-teaching process. It seems detached, wrong. As if I were studying a musical instrument without ever playing it.
 
At the university, I decide to write my doctoral thesis on how Italian architecture influenced English playwrights of the seventeenth century. I wonder why certain playwrights decided to set their tragedies, written in English, in Italian palaces. The thesis will discuss another schism between language and environment. The subject gives me a second reason to study Italian.
 
I attend elementary courses. My first teacher is a Milanese woman who lives in Boston. I do the homework, I pass the tests. But when, after two years of studying, I try to read Alberto Moravia’s novel  La ciociara ( Two Women), I barely understand it. I underline almost every word on every page. I am constantly looking in the dictionary. 
 
In the spring of 2000, six years after my trip to Florence, I go to Venice. In addition to the dictionary, I take a notebook, and on the last page I write down phrases that might be useful:  Saprebbe dirmi? Dove si trova? Come si fa per andare? Could you tell me? Where is? How does one get to? I recall the difference between  buono and  bello. I feel prepared. In reality, in Venice I’m barely able to ask for directions on the street, a wake-up call at the hotel. I manage to order in a restaurant and exchange a few words with a saleswoman. Nothing else. Even though I’ve returned to Italy, I still feel exiled from the language.

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4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
622 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Heathervb2000
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
repetitive, whiney, and self-centered
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2018
This is the first book by Jhumpa Lahiri that I have read. I too am learning Italian and am a writer so I expected to like this book much more than I did. The idea of learning a new language and writing a book in it is certainly ambitious and an interesting premise.... See more
This is the first book by Jhumpa Lahiri that I have read. I too am learning Italian and am a writer so I expected to like this book much more than I did. The idea of learning a new language and writing a book in it is certainly ambitious and an interesting premise.

In Other Words was repetitive, whiney, and self-centered. She complains about her struggles to learn Italian, but in today''s refuge climate, her problems seemed trivial and obtuse. At least on four occasions she writes "as I''ve said already." Well then, why say it again? I think this book probably would not have been published if it had been written by an unknown, and award-lacking author. I''m surprised at the praise the book had garnered.

That being said, I finished it - in slow, tolerable doses, reading the Italian first, then English. I wanted to see if it improved towards the end and to be able to give it a fair review. At times, It was painful to read. If it was in a different language, I would have quit.
29 people found this helpful
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Cybergirl
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A journey of self-discovery
Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2019
I bought this book late last year, as I was in the midst of learning Mandarin. I thought it would inspire me in my own language-learning journey. IN OTHER WORDS opens with a beautiful metaphoric analogy of the author swimming in a lake. Metaphorically speaking, that lake... See more
I bought this book late last year, as I was in the midst of learning Mandarin. I thought it would inspire me in my own language-learning journey. IN OTHER WORDS opens with a beautiful metaphoric analogy of the author swimming in a lake. Metaphorically speaking, that lake is Italian--the language itself.

The book reads like a diary (it''s based on one). In the first third of the book, Ms. Lahiri seems hesitant, unsure. She uses very simple words and short sentences--almost childlike. At one point, she reveals that she feels hesitant and childlike as she writes in Italian: it is a stark contrast from her facile relationship with English, in which she-as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author-is extremely accomplished.

The endeavor of learning Italian is, to me, laudable. But when you learn/realize that the book was actually written in Italian, then translated into English, you realize that this is a major accomplishment.

As the author gains mastery in Italian, the writing/vocabulary and personality seem more sophisticated, more grown-up. Ms. Lahiri writes of the year she and her family spent living in Italy, of her encounters in stores, of her conversations with Italians--many of whom are friends or acquaintances. I enjoyed reading those anecdotes.

The book is not just about language-learning: IOW chronicles the author''s self-discovery, as she fulfills this longtime dream. I marvelled at her determination. For, as she states in the book, there is no reason for her to learn Italian, except that she loves it.

I compared my language-learning approach (which I wrote about on my blog), and you will, too. If you''re learning a new language, you will enjoy reading of the author''s inspirational experience.
5 people found this helpful
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Amieux
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Journey of Mastery
Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2017
Oh my! In this wonderfully written story about a woman who falls in love with another language (Italian), and her joyful struggle to learn, master, and then write a book about it, unfolds a poignant journey for the reader. Anyone who has ever lived between two worlds in... See more
Oh my! In this wonderfully written story about a woman who falls in love with another language (Italian), and her joyful struggle to learn, master, and then write a book about it, unfolds a poignant journey for the reader. Anyone who has ever lived between two worlds in any fashion, will appreciate this book. I must confess that in one year, Lahiri has risen from being an unknown to me, to my favorite contemporary writer. This is the third of her books that I have read, and she only gets better. Her command of language and compassion, combined with her gift of storytelling make her an unprecedented writer. In this book, Lahiri is particularly open, honest, and dare I say authentic as she bares her soul about the tortuous process of trying to master a skill with something she loves and is passionate about. Be you a fan, or a curiosity reader, I would highly recommend this book to you.
14 people found this helpful
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E. Rocco Capobianco
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you are learning a language - especially Italian, this is an amazing journey!
Reviewed in the United States on June 11, 2019
Even if you''re not learning a language, you will be moved by Jhumpa Lahir and her love affair with Italian. I might even call this a love story, where the pursuer is pursuing an unsuspecting, challenging and unknowing partner - The Italian Language. Ms. Lahir''s metaphors... See more
Even if you''re not learning a language, you will be moved by Jhumpa Lahir and her love affair with Italian. I might even call this a love story, where the pursuer is pursuing an unsuspecting, challenging and unknowing partner - The Italian Language. Ms. Lahir''s metaphors are amazing and amusing.

Here''s a little passage that really hit home as one who has been studying Italian for two years; recently spending three months at Università per Stranieri in Perugia.

"I gather words that seem obscure (sciagura, spigliatezza: disaster, casualness) and ones that I can easily understand but would like to know better (inviperito, stralunato: incensed, out of one’s wits). I gather beautiful words that have no exact equivalents in English (formicolare, chiarore: to move in a confused fashion, like ants, and also to have pins and needles; shaft of light). I gather countless adjectives (malmesso, plumbeo, impiastricciate: shabby, leaden, smeared) to describe thousands of situations. I gather countless nouns and adverbs that I will never use. ​ At the end of the day the basket is heavy, overflowing. I feel loaded down, wealthy, in high spirits. My words seem more valuable than money. I am like a beggar who finds a pile of gold, a bag of jewels.

But when I come out of the woods, when I see the basket, scarcely a handful of words remain. The majority disappear. They vanish into thin air, they flow like water between my fingers. Because the basket is memory, and memory betrays me, memory doesn’t hold up. I feel a bond with every word I pick up. I feel affection, along with a sense of responsibility. When I can’t remember words, I fear I’ve abandoned them. ​" As anyone who is studying a language, they will tell you, the experience she describes above, feels so familiar!

She finds herself learning not only the language but also a beautiful insight into the culture. Insight even a seasoned tourist would not be exposed to. You will learn how this brilliant Pulitzer Prize author humbly approaches this task and you will be moved.

This is a quick read, cleverly written that will relate to you if you''re learning a language, or maybe even encouraged to learn that language you''ve been thinking about learning for all these years.

Highly recommended.

Rocco Capobianco
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Tim Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sensational
Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2016
A remarkable book. As a long time student of Italian, I found Ms. Lahiri''s observations on the problems that foreigners (especially anglophones) face while learning the language to be spot on. Her own personal feelings and observations about the Italian language are written... See more
A remarkable book. As a long time student of Italian, I found Ms. Lahiri''s observations on the problems that foreigners (especially anglophones) face while learning the language to be spot on. Her own personal feelings and observations about the Italian language are written in a straightforward, clear, and sensitive manner.

This book is presented both in Italian, in which Lahiri wrote (verso), and an English translation (recto). The translation was not done by Lahiri, for reasons she clarifies in the book.

Every student of Italian MUST purchase and read this book.
12 people found this helpful
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Noah Ferrel
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Class assignment
Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2017
In Other Words is a non-fiction book written by Jhumpa Lahiri explaining her personal relationship and her journey with language. Her journey began as a child with English and Bengali, but she never felt satisfied with just these two. She felt a divide, stuck between these... See more
In Other Words is a non-fiction book written by Jhumpa Lahiri explaining her personal relationship and her journey with language. Her journey began as a child with English and Bengali, but she never felt satisfied with just these two. She felt a divide, stuck between these two languages, and it was not until discovering Italian, that she was able to bridge this gap. She became enamored with the Italian language and culture, and this book chronicles her journey to truly become a part of it. She didn’t have much experience with the Italian language, but she decided to immerse herself into Italian by writing the second half of the book in Italian. At times, the book felt repetitive until she touched on her background with Bengali and English, and how displacement can lead to discovery. Her first chapters had a lack of adventure, and the dramatic tone gave off more of an anxious feeling, rather than a supportive one--because we wanted her to just get through her struggle. The lens of her relationship to the Italian language enhances the necessity of her journey of moving to Italy, to fully immerse herself into the culture. It was a difficult and emotional journey for her. Reading about her experience forces the reader to examine their own relationship with language, in order to discover how someone could feel this intense desire to connect to another culture. Her vulnerability throughout the book is crucial in allowing the reader to connect with and appreciate her story. Her complicated lifelong journey with language will change your own relationship with it.
2 people found this helpful
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Maarten (TX)
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Putting words to working with words
Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2016
I am reading this book on my kindle which is a bit of a struggle because it is difficult to flip between Italian and English. Just ordered the hard cover because this is a very special book. Learning a new language is difficult and exhilarating at the same time because... See more
I am reading this book on my kindle which is a bit of a struggle because it is difficult to flip between Italian and English. Just ordered the hard cover because this is a very special book.
Learning a new language is difficult and exhilarating at the same time because it opens your mind to a different way of thinking. I have been going through the learning process in various languages and it is always gratifying when you can actually have a conversation in a language that is not your native tongue.

This book expresses in a beautiful way describes the process of learning a new language with thoughts and concerns that I recognize in my own efforts to communicate as much as I can in the language of the people I work with especially in my activities as coach and negotiator. I recognize now what actually happens in the mind because Jhumpa has the gift to describe and put into words what has for me just thinking in the background.

A book that makes you exclaim: "yes, that''s how it feels. I have never been able to put a finger on that feeling but this is exactly what I feel when struggling to learn a language or improve" is very special and rare. It is like a very good coach or mentor pointing out a behavior that you know you have but never knew why you did certain things or felt certain things.

In short: this amazing book brings tears in my eyes because of the deep recognition it evokes about language, culture, being expatriated, being there while being somewhere else. Highly recommended.
57 people found this helpful
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Zoey
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Book of Relatability
Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2017
While reading Lahiri’s In Other Words, I found the book to be beautifully natural. Lahiri found a way to put her thoughts down on paper while being very authentic. Normally while reading literature, I find myself wanting authors to be more pure, and less edited in what they... See more
While reading Lahiri’s In Other Words, I found the book to be beautifully natural. Lahiri found a way to put her thoughts down on paper while being very authentic. Normally while reading literature, I find myself wanting authors to be more pure, and less edited in what they truly want to put down on paper. I found the piece to be the complete opposite of what I normally read, which was very refreshing. I was able to get a true understanding of what went through Lahiri’s mind while writing In Other Words. There were many points where she opens up, letting herself be truly vulnerable in her writing. It shows how you can be very powerful with your words; speaking your mind can add a whole new layer to your concepts. While I have found many authors protect their ideas, Lahiri shows a new way of expressing her thoughts, imparting a great amount of passion towards her journey of learning language.
I did find the book to be a little repetitive. It felt a little too long for the type of story. It would have been easier to read if it was condensed down.
I also really appreciated the amount of relatability in this piece. As a college student, I have taken many language classes, but have struggled to perfect the language, regardless of the amount of years I have spoken it. Lahiri struggles with this as well. She bounces between many Italian tutors, yet feels incomplete since she has not been immersed long enough in the Italian culture to really grasp Italian. A large population of people struggle with acquiring a second language, and this common place makes the book just that much more relatable. So many people want to read about topics that they can empathize with, and this topic on the difficulty of learning a language is valuable to a lot of different types of people.
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Top reviews from other countries

TripFiction
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Memoir and travelogues set across ITALY
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 30, 2021
Jhumpa first travelled to Italy in 1994, spending a week in Florence with her sister, whilst studying Renaissance architecture in Boston. The love affair was immediate and profound. ‘From the start my relationship with Italy is as auditory as it is visual. Although there...See more
Jhumpa first travelled to Italy in 1994, spending a week in Florence with her sister, whilst studying Renaissance architecture in Boston. The love affair was immediate and profound. ‘From the start my relationship with Italy is as auditory as it is visual. Although there aren’t many cars, the city is humming. I’m aware of a sound that I like, of conversations, phrases, words that I hear wherever I go. As if the whole city were a theater in which a slightly restless audience is chatting before the show begins.’ She learns Italian at home for twenty years, but that isn’t enough. She uproots her family to go and live in Rome, where Jhumpa wants to absorb everything possible about the country, its culture, the people and – most profoundly – its language. Even to the exclusion of her other languages, Bengali and English. To the extent that she ultimately thinks in Italian, writing In altre parole in her new language, the Italian text coexisting with the English translation – by Ann Goldstein – when published as In Other Words. Although the journey is a challenging one…. ‘When I read in Italian, I feel like a guest, a traveler. Nevertheless, what I’m doing seems a legitimate, acceptable task. When I write in Italian, I feel like an intruder, an impostor. The work seems counterfeit, unnatural. I realise that I’ve crossed over a boundary, that I feel lost, in flight. I’m a complete foreigner.‘ Lahiri’s writing is lyrical, intense, beautifully crafted and stuffed with extraordinarily illuminating phrases and images. ‘Ever since I was a child, I’ve belonged only to my words. I don’t have a country, a specific culture. If I didn’t write, if I didn’t work with words, I wouldn’t feel that I’m present on the earth.’ ‘Oddly, I feel more protected when I write in Italian, even though I’m also more exposed. It’s true that a new language covers me, but unlike Daphne (from Ovid’s Metamorphoses) I have a permeable covering, I’m almost without a skin. And although I don’t have a thick bark, I am, in Italian, a tougher, freer writer, who, taking root again, grows in a different way.’ In Other Words is a short book, not much over 100 pages of the English translation, standing opposite Jhumpa’s proud original Italian text. As a lover of languages myself, and the owner of a pathetically small Italian vocabulary, I was excited to read about this brave linguistic adventure. I must admit to feeling slightly disappointed by the end. The book felt a little too academic, perhaps even a little self-indulgent. But that in no way diminishes this immense achievement by a linguistic and literary titan.
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Susannah
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A fascinating study into the way in which identity can be a matter of linguistic preference
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 7, 2019
A beautifully written book written in Italian/English parallel text about Jhumpa Lahiri''s transformative love affair with Italian. This is a fascinating study of the way in which a new language can shape identity so that the novice speaker ''inhabits'' the language and vice...See more
A beautifully written book written in Italian/English parallel text about Jhumpa Lahiri''s transformative love affair with Italian. This is a fascinating study of the way in which a new language can shape identity so that the novice speaker ''inhabits'' the language and vice versa. Never entirely at home with her parents'' Bengali nor with the English she grew up with when her family moved to the US, Italian became a refuge and a means of escape. I love this book.
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DodgilyArtful
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I have read all of Ms Lahiri''s books and loved them for their dispassionate
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 5, 2018
Probably for completists only. I have read all of Ms Lahiri''s books and loved them for their dispassionate, detached prose and universalization of the the feeling of being an alien. Here she takes it to the next level by writing in a new language. Originally published in...See more
Probably for completists only. I have read all of Ms Lahiri''s books and loved them for their dispassionate, detached prose and universalization of the the feeling of being an alien. Here she takes it to the next level by writing in a new language. Originally published in Italian, this is an autobiographical account of self-alienation layered on top of a lifetime''s experience of being ''other''. No one writes about being an outsider quite like Jhumpa Lahiri.
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RTK
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
exactly as described in very good condition...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 19, 2018
- this book arrived as advertised in very good condition...something which is becoming less common these days with some sellers now passing-off books as being in ''very good'' condition when they are simply okay.
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twinkletoes.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A really interesting insight into becoming proficient in a foreign language.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 11, 2019
I can completely identify with the process she describes so clearly. I find her Italian more straightforward to read and understand and is definitely more interesting than a lot of Italian readers for English students. I would recommend this.
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