Translating Myself and Others by Jhumpa Lahiri review – the sanctuary of language

The novelist’s collection of essays on translation only hint at what led her to take refuge in Italian

There aren’t many writers who radically remake their style over the course of their life: we might think of Joyce’s revolutions, Woolf’s renewals, or what Jeanette Winterson called the “furnace work” that Eliot undertook on his mature style for Four Quartets.

Rarer still are those who change the language they write in, but to names such as Beckett and Nabokov we can add Jhumpa Lahiri. At the turn of the millennium, Lahiri was a young star of American literature, winning a Pulitzer prize for her debut, Interpreter of Maladies. She could have carried on like that, but little over a decade later, after publication of her novel The Lowland in 2013, she stopped writing in English and took up Italian.

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