The new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author, Jhumpa Lahiri, Whereabouts is ghostly, unsettling but beautifully written. A haunting portrait of a woman, her decisions, her conversations, her solitariness, in a beautiful and lonely Italian city, this novel becomes more relative to the year gone by as we know it, which is perhaps what makes it all the more perturbed.
Nilanjana Sudeshna “Jhumpa” Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age. With many accolades under her belt a novel by Lahiri is always hotly anticipated, and this is no different.
She makes the bright pavements, the city bridges, the shops and pools and bars as much a character of this novel as the woman. We feel a real mindful approach to her life, she slows her pace to watch a couple fighting, to take in the sight of an old woman in a waiting room; pauses to drink her coffee in a shaded square. Many of us are acquainted with this throughout this pandemic era.
Her solitude is felt, the themes of detachment, estrangement and dread all vivid, and sit with you long after you put the book down.
A rare work of fiction, Whereabouts, which was originally written in Italian and then translated by the author herself, brims with the impulse to cross barriers. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.
A dazzling conviction of a novel, with the presence of the city very much felt, its captures a woman standing on one of life’s thresholds, reflecting on what has been lost and is still present, with optimism and anger. A stunning read, Lahiri has an evocative and disturbing element to it, that often sits close to home during these recent times. It’s distinctly obvious why she has so many accolades under her belt.
Whereabouts is out on 4th May 2021, published by Bloomsbury.