In 2015, Jhumpa Lahiri took the radical decision to no longer write in English, and to choose Italian instead – a language she had been studying since her undergraduate years and in which she believes to be “a tougher, freer writer”. Following the publication of her 2015 language memoir, In Altre Parole (In Other Words), she wrote a novel entitled Dove Mi Trovo which she translated as Whereabouts in May 2021. Leaving behind detailed descriptions of Bengali American life, Lahiri’s Italian texts are more impressionistic and meditative. They contain nameless and wandering characters and take place in unidentified locations. And yet, the themes of identity and otherness continue to dominate her writing, as ‘The Boundary’, her latest Italian short story, demonstrates. The story, which she translated herself for the New Yorker, and which will be contained in her upcoming collection of Italian stories, is narrated by a teenager whose immigrant parents are the caretakers for a holiday house in Italy.
First Published The New Yorker, January 2018, and available to read to subscribers here