Author Jhumpa Lahiri Visits Campus

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri moved to Italy for three years to immerse herself in a third language, one she’d fallen in love with. The result was the recently released and acclaimed memoir written in Italian called In Altre Parole (In Other Words).

So it was only fitting that last fall, before the book made its translated English debut, Lahiri made her first public appearance after returning to the United States at an event at Montclair State, sponsored by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies in collaboration with the Global Education Center, the departments of English and of Classics and General Humanities. Nearly 500 students, faculty and guests attended the event.

Author Jhumpa Lahiri speaking at Montclair State University.

Lahiri described what it was like to learn the language and then write in it. “Every sentence I write in Italian is like a small bridge that I build and then cross,” she said. “Every sentence, like a bridge, takes me from one place to another.”

The month before her October appearance at the University, Lahiri, who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for her book of short stories titled Interpreter of Maladies, was presented with the National Humanities Medal, bestowed by President Obama.

In Other Words “promises to be a ‘Bible’ for the community of Italian students and professors, a number of whom are planning on adopting it,” says Teresa Fiore, associate professor and Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, who organized the event.