Meine Filiale

In Other Words

Jhumpa Lahiri

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National Best Seller

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. A startling act of self-reflection, In Other Words is Lahiri's meditation on the process of learning to express herself in another language-and the stunning journey of a writer seeking a new voice.

"Gorgeous. . . . Lahiri gives us the most unusual of self-portraits." -The New York Times Book Review

"Exquisite. . . . Strikingly honest, lyrical, untouched by sentimentality. . . . The most evocative, unpretentious, astute account of a writing life I have read." -Howard Norman, The Washington Post

"As much a work of poetry as prose. . . . Beautiful." -Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Magnificent. . . . [In Other Words] puts one in the company of a beautiful mind engaged in a sustained and bracing discipline." -Los Angeles Times

"Urgent and raw." -O, The Oprah Magazine

"In Lahiri's hands, these essays and stories become an invaluable insight into the craft of writing not as storytelling but as speaking the self into existence." -San Francisco Chronicle

"A quiet coming of age. . . . Lahiri is a master of language." -Time


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 256
Erscheinungsdatum 07.02.2017
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-1-101-91146-4
Verlag Random House LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 20.6/13.4/2.2 cm
Gewicht 259 g
Originaltitel In altre parole
Übersetzer Ann Goldstein
Verkaufsrang 9641


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    I want to cross a small lake. It really is small, and yet the other shore seems too far away, beyond my abilities. I'm aware that the lake is very deep in the middle, and even though I know how to swim I'm afraid of being alone in the water, without any support.

    The lake I'm talking about is in a secluded, isolated place. To get there you have to walk a short distance, through a silent wood. On the other side you can see a cottage, the only house on the shore. The lake was formed just after the last ice age, millennia ago. The water is clear but dark, heavier than salt water, with no current. Once you're in, a few yards from the shore, you can no longer see the bottom.

    In the morning I observe people coming to the lake, as I do. I watch them cross it in a confident, relaxed manner, stop for some minutes in front of the cottage, then return. I count their arm strokes. I envy them.

    For a month I swim around the lake, never going too far out. This is a more significant distance-the circumference compared to the diameter. It takes me more than half an hour to make this circle. Yet I'm always close to the shore. I can stop, I can stand up if I'm tired. It's good exercise, but not very exciting.

    Then one morning, near the end of the summer, I meet two friends at the lake. I've decided to make the crossing with them, to finally get to the cottage on the other side. I'm tired of just going along the edge.

    I count the strokes. I know that my companions are in the water with me, but I know that each of us is alone. After about a hundred and fifty strokes I'm in the middle, the deepest part. I keep going. After a hundred more I see the bottom again.

    I arrive on the other side: I've made it with no trouble. I see the cottage, until now distant, just steps from me. I see the small, faraway silhouettes of my husband, my children. They seem unreachable, but I know they're not. After a crossing, the known shore becomes the opposite side: here becomes there. Charged with energy, I cross the lake again. I'm elated.

    For twenty years I studied Italian as if I were swimming along the edge of that lake. Always next to my dominant language, English. Always hugging that shore. It was good exercise. Beneficial for the muscles, for the brain, but not very exciting. If you study a foreign language that way, you won't drown. The other language is always there to support you, to save you. But you can't float without the possibility of drowning, of sinking. To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore. Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.

    A few weeks after crossing the small hidden lake, I make a second crossing, much longer but not at all difficult. It will be the first true departure of my life. On a ship this time, I cross the Atlantic Ocean, to live in Italy.


    The first Italian book I buy is a pocket dictionary, with the definitions in English. It's 1994, and I'm about to go to Florence for the first time, with my sister. I go to a bookshop in Boston with an Italian name: Rizzoli. A stylish, refined bookshop, which is no longer there.

    I don't buy a guidebook, even though it's my first trip to Italy, even though I know nothing about Florence. Thanks to a friend of mine, I already have the address of a hotel. I'm a student, I don't have much money. I think a dictionary is more important.

    The one I choose has a green plastic cover, indestructible, impermeable. It's light, smaller than my hand. It has more or less the dimensions of a bar of soap. The back cover says that it contains around forty thousand Italian words.

    As we're wandering through the Uffizi, amid galleries that are almost deserted, my sister realizes that she's lost her hat. I open the dictionary. I go to the English-Italian part, to find out how to say "hat" in Italian.