The Gossamer Glow of Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Roman Stories”
Just over a decade ago, in 2012, Jhumpa Lahiri moved with her husband and two children to Rome. In the 12 years prior, she had become a literary sensation, gaining wide recognition for her fictional works exploring themes of home, family, tradition, estrangement, exile, in-betweenness, and belonging. In 2000, Lahiri received the Pulitzer Prize for her debut story collection, Interpreter of Maladies; her best-selling 2003 novel, The Namesake, was turned into a Hollywood film directed by Mira Nair. Her arrival in Rome, it turned out, would alter her already extraordinary literary trajectory—and her relationship to language—forever, giving her what she has called “a second life, an extra life.” Her 2013 novel, The Lowland, which was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and a National Book Award, remains her last published work of fiction written in English. In Rome, Lahiri’s “linguistic landscape dramatically transformed,” as she has put it, and by 2015, at age 48, she began writing almost exclusively in Italian.