Jhumpa Lahiri on the Italian Language and Culture as a Place of Creative Freedom
Monday October 5, 2015 - 6.30-8.30pm
University Hall 7th Floor Conference Center
As an established writer in one language, how does one "relocate" to another language and another culture? This lecture/conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri -recent recipient of the National Humanities Medal- will focus on her recent book written in Italian and entitled In altre parole, and limn some of the creative struggles and rewards of the choice to live in a foreign world and to write in foreign words.
The exploration of the beauty and richness of the Italian language acquires unexpected meanings when it is undertaken by a prominent writer in today’s literary landscape (The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies, among other works), whose link to Italy is exclusively shaped by an aesthetic affinity. Lahiri’s award-winning books are well known for their inquiry into the experience of people caught between two countries, worlds, and languages, namely the Indian one of the author’s parents and the American one of her own experience. Less well known is her deep interest in Italian culture and language, or as she terms it, her “love affair” with it. The title of the program uses her book’s title, which means “in other words,” as a springboard to discuss not just language but also the broader experience of traveling through a different culture, its values and myths, and its artistic patrimony, in order to try to find a place within it. Lahiri’s tenacious and lyrical approach to the learning of a foreign language like Italian, which constitutes an object of desire for her and today “a new home,” is a fascinating story of risky exploration, formal control, as well as emotional closeness and creative challenge that promises to engage a diverse audience.