©2024 Fable Group Inc.
3.5 

In Other Words

By Jhumpa Lahiri and Ann Goldstein
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri and Ann Goldstein digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Namesake delivers a powerful meditation on the process of learning to express herself in Italian—and the stunning journey of a writer seeking a new voice. • "The most evocative, unpretentious, astute account of a writing life I have read.” —The Washington Post

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. In Other Words is a startling act of self-reflection.

Download the free Fable app

app book lists

Stay organized

Keep track of what you’re reading, what you’ve finished, and what’s next.
app book recommendations

Build a better TBR

Swipe, skip, and save with our smart list-building tool
app book reviews

Rate and review

Share your take with other readers with half stars, emojis, and tags
app comments

Curate your feed

Meet readers like you in the Fable For You feed, designed to build bookish communities
app book lists

Stay organized

Keep track of what you’re reading, what you’ve finished, and what’s next.
app book recommendations

Build a better TBR

Swipe, skip, and save with our smart list-building tool
app book reviews

Rate and review

Share your take with other readers with half stars, emojis, and tags
app comments

Curate your feed

Meet readers like you in the Fable For You feed, designed to build bookish communities

58 Reviews

3.5
“Absolutely stunning!”
“I like Jhumpa Lahiri’s fiction. I value it for its literary depth even when the stories don’t resonate with me, but this book not only left me cold but also annoyed me. Lahiri wants a new challenge, she chose to learn Italian and master it like a native. Learning it in her home in NYC was not enough, she packed everything and moved to Italy with her family to immerse herself in Italian and then write about her trials and tribulations of mastering a language as an adult. The premise is great, it should have been an engaging book, it is anything but that. It is whiny, repetitive, and cantankerous. Lahiri took everything so personally, it was annoying. She felt offended when shopkeepers spoke to her in Italian and made a big deal out of it. She also complained about her dual upbringing (in Bengali and English) and how that contributed to her being somewhat of a lesser being. “Because of my divided identity, or perhaps by disposition, I consider myself an incomplete person, in some way deficient.” It all sounded a little too self-indulgent as if there aren’t millions of multilingual families out there navigating lives and working in multiple languages. Most people who learn other languages as adults, do it out of necessity and do it with full-time jobs, less than excellent instructors, and in stressful conditions. They all question their learning abilities and progress. Still, the way Jhumpa Lahiri turned it into a never-ending loop of self-pity and whining is an art, even though she was rich, didn’t have to work while learning it, and had the luxury of moving to Italy with her entire family, she remained smug and superior in her suffering of learning a new language. The book is originally written in Italian, so she did master the language in the end, but the process she described in the book was so boring and devoid of any joy, my first thought was that she should have sought a psychotherapist’s help, perhaps that would have helped.”
“I resonated so strongly with this book. As someone who lived for years in Brazil and engaged in similar exercises of writing/journaling in Portuguese, I felt so seen in this and remembered feelings and experiences I haven’t thought of since I first lived in Brazil first time 20 years ago. What a beautiful love letter to the process of living in a new country and immersing oneself in a new language.”
“What a special book. Jhumpa has shared a part of her life that is so dear to her, her love of the Italian language and the journey she has taken with it. I am jealous, of a few things, one that she has the time, dedication and patience to learn Italian. I am also seriously impressed that she has done translations, to be able to dive so deeply into a work. Divine. I am also jealous that she was able to actually move to Italy. I've been twice, and the idea of being able to stay for years is too much to even entertain. My one big takeaway from this is the bit where she shared how she felt as a child, and being basically ashamed that English was not her first language. Humph, I say. We have it so backwards in this country. Personally I am more impressed by anyone who speaks more than one language than I am of anyone with a college degree. Sadly, I've been too lazy to undertake learning another language, although I desperately want to. I barely have a handle on English! She, or anyone, should never be ashamed of their first language or their second or third. We need to embrace and respect each other.”

About Jhumpa Lahiri

JHUMPA LAHIRI is the author of four works of fiction: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed 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.

Start a Book Club

Start a public or private book club with this book on the Fable app today!

FAQ

Do I have to buy the ebook to participate in a book club?

Why can’t I buy the ebook on the app?

How is Fable’s reader different from Kindle?

Do you sell physical books too?

Are book clubs free to join on Fable?

How do I start a book club with this book on Fable?

Error Icon
Save to a list
0
/
30
0
/
100
Private List
Private lists are not visible to other Fable users on your public profile.
Notification Icon