After writing a few excellent novels and a short story collection (my favorite of her work), Jhumpa Lahiri decided to tackle the memoir and to do it in Italian—a language she’s still learning. As I cannot read Italian, I read the translation into English by Ann Goldstein. As English is Lahiri’s “dominant language” one might ask why she didn’t do the translation herself. She addresses that in an author’s note stating that she would’ve been tempted to improve the work by using stronger words from her stronger language. Lahiri returns to this thought later on when she’s asked to contribute a piece for a literary festival which she writes in Italian and then translates herself. Overall, In Other Words is a fabulous glimpse into the life of an author. It is also an interesting look at the process of learning a language as Lahiri documents her attempts to learn Italian while still living in the United States before going into immersion by moving to Italy.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.