Unlike any of her previous works, this book in the words of the author herself is a “linguistic autobiography”. A book full of metaphors and a search within that leaves the author with contradicting feelings of joy and despair, independence and dependence.
“Why, as an adult, as a writer, am I interested in this new relationship with imperfection? What does it offer me? I would say a stunning clarity, a more profound self-awareness. Imperfection inspires invention, imagination, creativity. It stimulates. The more I feel imperfect the more I feel alive.”
Master storyteller Jhumpa Lahiri practically uproots herself when she decides to move to Rome to learn Italian. Keeping aside her days in New York where she struggled to grasp the language, the author takes the bold step of relocating to a foreign land to learn a foreign language. That journey in search of a language, which is at times exciting and at times exhausting, is what this book is about.
The book has glorious moments in it where you can literally feel the struggle she is facing. The doubts she is having. A struggle which is not as much as in learning a foreign language, but more so in belonging to that language. It’s like a journey unlike any other. Which she sums up beautifully,
“ An absurd journey, given that the traveler never reaches her destination”
If you are looking for the vintage Lahiri, this book is not for you. It’s neither the fiction she is best at, nor a full-fledged autobiography. While the book has its moments it’s not an engrossing read Jhumpa Lahiri is famous for. But if we look back at the context in which this book was written, its incredible the amount of courage she shows in learning and writing a book in a foreign language, which she even refused to translate herself. Maybe this book will make you look at your own life and help you to take that next bold step in your life. Good luck with that!