In Other Words

In Other Words

Book - 2016
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"A series of reflections on the author's experiences learning a new language and living abroad, in a dual-language edition"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781101875551
Branch Call Number: 92 L1394i 2016
Characteristics: xiv, 233 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Goldstein, Ann 1949-


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From Library Staff

A lyrical reflection on her life, travels, and the process of learning a third language (Italian) well enough to write in that language.

This book is beautifully written and made me think about identity in a way I never had before. Betsy/Main Library

Betsy from Main says: "It's a beautiful study on identity, place, and belonging. The writing was very soothing, for some reason, as well, and I wanted to start over and read it again right away, but it was on hold!"

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Oct 06, 2019

I was really fascinated by this book - it seems counter-intuitive that a successful writer would turn from the language she was successful in to a language she had to learn from scratch. So the book is a wonderful look at language itself and why we feel drawn to or comfortable with languages that are not our mother tongue. Terrific read, quite fast, and NOT academic in tone. I tried listening to it as a recorded book but found it more satisfying to read in printed form - there’s a lot to contemplate at the slower pace of a book.

Jul 28, 2019

Very honest reflections on the life of migrants. I relate as my mother tongue is Spanish, was educated in English, and live in a bilingual English-French country. Fascinating description of the inner life of those experiencing migration by choice or by need. Good read. I had previously read the author's short stories. Hope she continues writing in any language of her choice.

Jun 07, 2018

I enjoy reading diary/journal entries, whether fiction or non-fiction or somewhere in between, plus I relate a lot to Lahiri's love for language, her struggles in learning a new one, her dramatic metaphors, so this was perfect for me. Wasn't surprised and it felt right to learn at the end that (slight spoiler?) Lahiri wrote this book as fragmented diary entries about her overall linguistic experience in Rome. Really cool concept and executed well, in simple but striking language. Really interested to see what a native Italian reader would think?

JCLMattC Apr 23, 2018

In Other Words is a celebration of Language. Also it's a memoir on the craft of writing. There are many profound moments that go beyond simply studying another language. The author explores the Italian language from a creative standpoint. If you don't (or, like me, can't) read the Italian on the left-hand side of the pages, it makes for very quick reading indeed.

May 20, 2017

If you love to read, it seems reasonable you might be drawn to a book by a writer who is discussing why she writes. That may have been why I picked up "In Other Words", but the reason I read through it with enormous pleasure is the utter frankness and honesty I felt from Jhumpa Lahiri as she described her life, her parents immigrants from India, she brought up in Rhode Island from the age of two. She was and is consumed with language. She is also a West Bengali Indian brought up in an America that is frequently unkind to non-Whites. She has many compatriots (my wife included) who are thoroughly American but not White, and I found her story gripping, frustrating, humorous, intense. The combination of her love for language and writing and her deeply seated feeling of not really belonging, anywhere, moved her to study a THIRD language, to study it so intensely that she grew capable of writing in it. Her story is fascinating and absorbing. I will be returning to it.

Apr 06, 2017

I just couldn't get into it, and I love all her previous writing. Perhaps I will try again later.

Dec 12, 2016

Others have commented here about the risks Lahiri took, both in using the Italian language as her choice for composition (and un-corrected for grammar in Italian!) and in the internal style of the narrative. The book thus cannot be as successful on the surface as earlier novels. What makes it so successful regardless is her strong and literate personality in *any* language, trying to plumb the depths of vocabulary almost as a poet would.

Oct 02, 2016

It's a graduate thesis and nothing is wrong with that, but it should be marked as such. I wouldn't mind reading it as part of an academic program - it's pretty boring as well - but in my spare time? Not a chance. I better learn Italian!

sungeun2k1 Aug 21, 2016

Jhumpa Lahiri's first foray into writing in Italian (her third language) is a memoir of her relationship with the language and largely reads like pages from her journal. There are moments that resonate beautifully, while some of it seemed almost a rambling stream of consciousness, which is a shame, because I would have liked to hear much more about her family's time in Rome than just her internal monologue about the language.

The two short stories she includes (her first fiction written in Italian) are abstract and lovely.

May 15, 2016

"In Other Words" is like Lahiri's other books and yet it is not. The theme is that Lahiri falls in love with the Italian language and sets out not only to learn the language but to write in it! This is her achievement and what we are reading is her English translation - translated by another translator not Lahiri herself. I tried keeping up with the Italian version but failed miserably, needless to say, since my knowledge of Italian or lack thereof prevented me from appreciating it! The book is fraught with metaphors and Lahiri's analogies too are great. All in all a great read.

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sungeun2k1 Aug 21, 2016

"Because of my divided identity, or perhaps by disposition, I consider myself an incomplete person, in some way deficient. Maybe there is a linguistic reason--the lack of a language to identify with. As a girl in America, I tried to speak Bengali perfectly, without a foreign accent, to satisfy my parents, and above all to feel that I was completely their daughter. But it was impossible. On the other hand, I wanted to be considered an American, yet, despite the fact that I speak English perfectly, that was impossible, too. I was suspended rather than rooted. I had two sides, neither well defined. The anxiety I felt, and still feel, comes from a sense of inadequacy, of being a disappointment."

WVMLlibrarianCathy Mar 01, 2016

When you live in a county 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.
- p. 19, In Other Words


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