Inspirational Woman

Inspirational Woman

This Thursday, 8 March is the International Women’s Day that celebrates women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.  What a timely suggestion from fellow Dolce Vita Bloggers to write about a woman who has inspired me.

Nilanjana Sudheshna Lahiri was born on July 11, 1967, in London, England, to mother Tapati and father Amar, a Bengali couple who immigrated to the United Kingdom from Calcutta, India. Lahiri’s father, a university librarian, opted to relocate to the United States for work, eventually settling in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, when she was still a small child.

Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri

Why would a woman whose mother tongue is Bengali and second language English, decide to not only learn to speak Italian but write in Italian as well?  Maybe because she is a writer who doesn’t belong completely to any language.  Maybe it is because she is infatuated with the language and culture of Italy.

Lahiri describes her feeling as, “In a sense, I’m used to a kind of linguistic exile. My mother tongue, Bengali, is foreign in America. When you live in a country where your own language is considered foreign, you can feel a continuous sense of estrangement. You speak a secret, unknown language, lacking any correspondence to the environment. An absence that creates a distance within you.”  How brave one must be to do this. To totally submerge yourself in another language, to subject yourself to a metamorphosis with the hope that you will float to the top, confident in your speaking and writing prowess.

Lahiri’s bravery resulted in the dual language publication, In Altre Parole and winning the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.  It is in this beautifully executed autobiographical work  that you accompany (and identify with)  Lahiri on her quest for full Italian immersion and the process of learning to express oneself in another language.

A must read for those who truly desire to speak Italian.


Dolce Vita Bloggers
Dolce Vita Bloggers



Comments (11)

  1. LuLu B – Calabrisella Mia

    This book looks really interesting, I must add it to my reading list!

    1. Lisa

      You won’t be sorry. Her story is very interesting and the book is a great tool to improve your Italian

  2. Ishita

    I love Lahiri and her story. Obviously because she is Indian and so am I, I relate to it more. Thanks for this post and reminding me how wonderful this woman is. xx

  3. mammaprada

    Aw I recently learnt about Lahiri from Lucia at @TurinEpi! I would love to read this. I’m really interested in people who find they don’t feel one nationality or another. I know my Italian Husband who has lived in the UK for 17 years really struggles with this sometimes!

  4. Kelly

    Thanks for joining #DolceVitaBloggers Lisa! I’ve heard of this book from Ishita and I absolutely need to read it! I know from experience how intertwined our identity is with the language we speak, and learning to speak a foreign language feels like redefining ourselves. I think this will be the next book I read!

  5. a mindful traveler

    What a wonderful story. I have not heard of Lahiri before, so thank you for sharing. 🙂

  6. Questa Dolce Vita (@questadolcevita)

    I LOVE THIS BOOK AND I LOVE JHUMPA SO SO SO MUCH. A wonderful choice for this month’s topic. I’m often in complete awe of her and all that she has accomplished. It’s so lovely when she speaks Italian as well. Thank you for your post and for being part of #DolceVitaBloggers. Love, Jasmine of http://www.questadolcevita.com

  7. Lucy and Kelly

    We will definitely have to pick up this book. She sounds like a very interesting lady! Thank you for sharing!

    Lucy and Kelly

  8. Moxie d’amore

    What a great woman to talk about! I love her writing, her cross culture experiences and her exploration of language learning is a delight to read about and inspiration to not be afraid of the unknown and making mistakes

  9. Alison

    Oh, how fascinating! I’m adding the book to my goodreads list right away! Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. domsavaglio

    I knew her name looked familiar. I need to read her book! Thanks for writing about Jhumpa and providing more insight 🙂

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