Roman Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri
Bookseller review by Fleur:
‘In this incredible book Jhumpa Lahiri manages something I imagine so many writers strive their whole careers to achieve – capturing life, setting down some of the essence of our humanity onto the page; making a reader care intensely not just for the characters in the book, or even our own loved ones, but for all people whoever they are, wherever they are, wherever they’ve come from.
Roman Stories is a series of spotlights shone on different inhabitants of contemporary Rome, all connected by a series of steps in the city. A grieving couple, a migrant family looking for a permanent place to settle, wealthy ex-pats, brothers, teenagers – secrets, inner lives, public faces. The insights into the characters in the stories are so deeply affecting, making me (as a reader) on the one hand feel seen, and on the other hand wonder/worry – who else sees me like this? Are my own secrets actually not secret at all, and are really on view for the world to know?
In our time of constant change – shifting powers, ideals and opinions – books can be invaluable in letting us through other doors to see alternatives to the way things are portrayed in the mainstream media.
This book is subtle and quiet, clear and a force. It moved me more than I’m capable of satisfyingly putting into words (I’m no Jhumpa Lahiri). So all I can do is urge you to read it and see for yourself.’
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From the internationally bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Interpreter of Maladies comes an exquisitely crafted work of fiction. Jhumpa Lahiri sets her gaze on the eternally beautiful city, illuminating the frailties of the human condition and dissecting lives lived on the margins.
A man recalls a summer party that awakens an alternative version of himself. A couple haunted by a tragic loss return to seek consolation. An outsider family is pushed out of the block in which they hoped to settle. A set of steps in a Roman neighbourhood connects the daily lives of the city’s myriad inhabitants. This is an evocative fresco of Rome, the most alluring character of all: contradictory, in constant transformation and a home to those who know they can’t fully belong but choose it anyway.
Rich with Lahiri’s signature gifts, Roman Stories is a masterful work from one of the finest writers of our time.
Translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri and Todd Portnowitz