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Roman Stories

By Jhumpa Lahiri and Jhumpa Lahiri and Todd Portnowitz
Roman Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri and Jhumpa Lahiri and Todd Portnowitz digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

The first short story collection by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author and master of the form since her number one New York Times best seller Unaccustomed Earth • Rome—metropolis and monument, suspended between past and future, multi-faceted and metaphysical—is the protagonist, not the setting, of these nine stories

"A delectable, sun-washed treat . . . the stories have the beating heart of the city itself, a place of magnificent decay and vibrant, varied life." —Vogue

In “The Boundary,” one family vacations in the Roman countryside, though we see their lives through the eyes of the caretaker’s daughter, who nurses a wound from her family’s immigrant past. In “P’s Parties,” a Roman couple, now empty nesters, finds comfort and community with foreigners at their friend’s yearly birthday gathering—until the husband crosses a line.

And in “The Steps,” on a public staircase that connects two neighborhoods and the residents who climb up and down it, we see Italy’s capital in all of its social and cultural variegations, filled with the tensions of a changing city: visibility and invisibility, random acts of aggression, the challenge of straddling worlds and cultures, and the meaning of home.

These are splendid, searching stories, written in Jhumpa Lahiri’s adopted language of Italian and seamlessly translated by the author and by Knopf editor Todd Portnowitz. Stories steeped in the moods of Italian master Alberto Moravia and guided, in the concluding tale, by the ineluctable ghost of Dante Alighieri, whose words lead the protagonist toward a new way of life.

6 Reviews

“I find Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing fascinating, I feel like I have grown along with her. She won the Pulitzer around the time I left university, it was the best short story collection I had ever read. I picked up The Namesake when I was traveling abroad for the first time. She is one of the writers I have continually checked in with through my adult life. I find it so interesting that she is now writing in Italian, exploring contemporary Italian life from her perspective. I enjoyed this collection very much, the writing is straightforward in a way that I can recognize from my experience as an adult learning a second language. You can probably tell from my review that I have a history of enjoying this author’s writing, this collection adds to that enjoyment. My hunch is that this would not be the best place to start with Lahiri’s work although I may be wrong, maybe it would be just as fascinating to work your way backwards through her books. Either way, I have loved all of her published work & this is no exception.”
“Beautiful writing, evocative Italian scenery and culture blended with poignant characterisation and Lahiri's empathic understanding of human beings. The beauty of Rome and its life is juxtaposed in these stories with raw, messy human pain and brokenness. At first I wasn't sure if these stories were for me but actually, the longer I sit with them the more I realise how the snapshots of these protagonist's lives have stayed with me. Lahiri's writing is spare, precise and poetic and the layers to these short stories are exquisite. To read slowly and savour. This honest review is given with thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this book.”

About Jhumpa Lahiri

JHUMPA LAHIRI, a bilingual writer and translator, is the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Barnard College (Columbia University). She received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for Interpreter of Maladies, her debut story collection. She is also the author of The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland, which was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award in fiction. Since 2015, Lahiri has been writing fiction, essays, and poetry in Italian: In Altre Parole (In Other Words), Il Vestito dei libri (The Clothing of Books), Dove mi trovo (self-translated as Whereabouts), Il quaderno di Nerina, and Racconti romani. She has translated three novels by Domenico Starnone and is the editor of The Penguin Classics Book of Italian Short Stories, which was published in Italy as Racconti Italiani. Lahiri received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2014, and in 2019 she was named Commendatore of the Italian Republic by President Sergio Mattarella. Her most recent book in English is a collection of essays entitled Translating Myself and Others, published in Spring 2022 by Princeton University Press.

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