Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Other Language” as Want to Read:
The Other Language
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Other Language

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,247 ratings  ·  219 reviews
Hailed by The New York Times as “a natural-born storyteller,” the acclaimed author of Rules of the Wild gives us nine incandescently smart stories, funny, elegant, and poignant by turns, that explore the power of change—in relationships, in geographies, and across cultures—to reveal unexpected aspects of ourselves.
Taking us to Venice during film festival season, where a w
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Pantheon
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Other Language, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Other Language

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,247 ratings  ·  219 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My friend Francesca's beautiful collection of stories is among the finalists for the Story Prize which will be announced tonight in NYC. Fingers crossed!

"In summary, such stories may sound like familiar tales of mid- and later-life crises, or like old-fashioned fables about privileged Europeans who have washed up in provincial or colonial outposts. What makes these tales stand out as captivating exemplars of storytelling craft is Ms. Marciano’s sympathetic, but wryly
Ashok Rao
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories is absolutely entertaining. They transfer you to different places in Italy, Greece, sub-Saharan African village, New York and India. Imagine traveling with these interesting characters to some exotic places. I have read very few books of short stories where every story is a gem. The author is also a screenwriter and she knows how to conjure up an image in the reader's mind. The characters in these stories are intelligent, know what they want in life and are somet ...more
Diane Barnes
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You always take your chances when you pick up a book of short stories, especially when you've never even heard of the author. You automatically assume that there'll be some duds, some just so-so, and hopefully a couple of really great stories. That's what I was hoping for when I picked up this book that had been on my shelf for a couple of years.

Boy, was I surprised when every single one of these 9 stories turned out to be mini-masterpieces! EVERY SINGLE ONE! Each one was complete in itself, no
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I feel as if I just discovered another goddess of the short story genre. Francesca Marciano’s nine stories are so beautifully realized, so breathtaking in their scope, that I lost track of time while under their spell.

“After seven years of European lie, she found herself smiling at the predicament she’d found herself in. It was a reminder that there were still places in the world where one could vanish, be lost, be found and rescued by strangers,” Ms. Marciano writes in one of her stories.

Marciano writes with such naturalness and lack of artifice in each of these carefully composed and engrossing stories of women on the cusp that the reader is convinced the stories are about the author herself. By the fourth intimate portrait we bow to the skill and craft that brought these stories to life. We are privy to an entrancing fragility surrounding each central character as she faces choices and events that will shape her future. Her confusion and uncertainty is something we know very w ...more
Julie Christine
The language of love. The language of loss. The languages of betrayal, lust, disappointment, boredom, hope. Francesca Marciano speaks each with gorgeous fluidity and astonishing fluency. I had never heard of Marciano before the short story collection The Other Language was recommended to me. Now I am poised to seek out all of her works.

As a reader and writer for whom place is nearly as important as character, I was delighted to find that Marciano speaks my language. From her native Rome, to a h
Larry H
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Change can be difficult to deal with, and how we handle it defines us as a person. Whether it's a change in a relationship, career, location, age, even the death of a loved one, change is often unexpected and it can produce some tumultuous results.

The characters in Francesca Marciano's story collection, The Other Language, are all facing change of one sort or another. Marciano's stories take place in foreign countries—Italy, Greece, Tanzania, Kenya, India—but although the
I started out having a love-hate relationship with this book.

What did I love? The rich language, insightful characters, and exotic locales. These nine stories are about women who follow their impulses, embrace change, and allow themselves to be vulnerable. There is sadness and happiness and courage and passion. The stories transport you to faraway lands, such as Italy, India, Africa, and they make you want to travel even if you’ve sworn off it. I liked every one of the stories, and I suspect the
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
Marciano's "The Other Language" is a collection of short stories loosely held together by the theme of how language and culture shape us in ways we can't understand and can't change, no matter how much we might try. While that is a compelling idea, there was so much missing from this book, which kept the stories from being fully satisfying. Sure there were some beautiful passages and the stories take place in exotic locales, but I simply wasn't moved by these characters who are mostly young and ...more
I so enjoyed "The Other Language". Often when I read short stories they can feel obscure or unfamiliar, distant from any of my own experience. The best part of Francesca Marciano's book for me was the familiarity of her voice. These stories are a part of many women's stories. As if your visiting a friend you haven't seen for years and you catch up on what's been happening in their life. You can nod your head and say "yes, yes, I've experienced those same feeling's".
She understands women at the
Roger Brunyate
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, stories
At a Remove

All nine of the wonderful stories in this collection involve characters who are removed from their former selves in either space or time, and often in both. As an example, take the shortest story in the book, "The Italian System." Although by no means the best, it is emblematic and probably autobiographical. A young Italian woman comes to New York to take a summer writing course. She falls in love with the city and gets a job teaching at a language school to stay there. But about a de
N.N. Light
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a powerful collection of stories! I loved it and even got inspired.

My Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Mrs. N
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I cannot rave enough about this stunning book of short stories. Sweet and charming without being trivial or insincere, they’re all immensely impactful. Marciano’s simple and straightforward writing style serves as a gorgeous contrast to the incredibly complex emotions she conveys within her characters. Feelings of inferiority, unrealized dreams, personal disappointments and failures, and changing values plague all of the women in these stories, but the sadness never overwhelms, and hope for chan ...more
I have great admiration for short story writers - the writing has to be tight with not a lot of time to unfold the storyline and connect the characters to the reader. Francesca Marciano does all this in her nine short stories. Each one is quite unique and different. We travel the world -- to Greece, Italy, India, Kenya, islands off Tanzania and the U.S. and meet people at different times in their lives, love lost, friendship found, and childhood remembrances not quite the same. Well written and ...more
Chiara Barzini
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes to gallop through life
Marciano's stories are set in suggestive and striking locales and capture the thrill and alienation of being citizens of the world, of being everywhere and nowhere at the same time, embracing and fighting off multiple personalities. Her female characters are layered and complex: sometimes sexy, sometimes funny, sometimes desperate – always human. You will read this book and you will feel like you've visited all its countries and learned the secret ingredient of what makes up the cultures of the ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A delightful, aspiration-tinged beach read? Check. A series of explorations on how we change our perspective and reinvent ourselves to meet the circumstances of a new homeland, deal with painful life events, or simply come to terms with who we are now versus who we thought we might have become when we were younger? Also check.

This unmissable short-story collection starts with a quote: "To change your language you must change your life." Anyone who's lived in a foreign country where they speak a
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first story in THE OTHER LANGUAGE took me by surprise and completely blew me away. The beauty and grace and urgency of each moment captures a life in full color. Full glory and hurt. Every scene is full of promise and romance, from a Greek beach, Piaza Navona in Rome, and dinner on the floor of a north-facing Boston apartment. The story is sensual yet it builds an urgency I wouldn't expect from a story narrated from some nostalgic future. It'll stick with me for a long time, like one of my o ...more
Mark Landmann
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favourites
I enjoyed these stories very much. Original and distinct but accessible, they took place all over the world, in well-developed, interesting settings, and had lots to say about place and identity. Each story stood out in my mind fully by the end of the book, and I always ended up being convinced by them, even when I'd been dubious along the way.
Judith E
A six star read. Beautiful and insightful writing about culture, our past (how we deal with it, our perception of it, and how it molds us), love, relationships, and women. I highlighted so, so much, as there is so much to savor.
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved each of these stories, and each left me wanting more. I especially enjoyed Chanel and Roman Romance. These and most of the others, I think, were about women finally coming to terms with their pasts, with their dreams and with their choices. This was quite a special little collection.
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
If the first story is just a preview of the rest of the book, this is going to be amazing.

okay just finished the last story; indeed it was amazing. nothing magical just each story as interesting as the one before. I don't usually go for short story collections for the usual reason of having this idea that you get jipped. Like a short story, just because it's not 300 pages long means you don't get depth and you want to get in to a juicy story without an end to come up against.

This collection was
Amirah Jiwa
Wow. The stories in this collection are sharp, and each one perfectly captures something lovely about relationships—with people, yes, but also with places and possibilities. The protagonists are mostly female, well-travelled, and call many places home which is probably why I found them so relatable. For me, every story elucidated something I have thought and felt but never quite been able to articulate. This is the first book I've read in a long time that I didn't want to devour. I wanted to sav ...more
May 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a book of nine stories, about Italians, mostly women in different different countries: Greece, USA, India, Kenya etc. Themes revolve around relationships of women and men, foreign cultures with lot introspection by characters. Often men-women relationships in transplanted cultures.

The book is a slow read, sometimes languid. Many people are comparing it to Jhumpa Lahiri - and on the cover they even have a quote by Lahiri herself "An astonishing collection".

I must say, I did not find it as
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader's copy of this book of stories through the Goodreads First Reads program. I enjoyed every one of Marciano's stories; her characters are so human, so real, that it is easy to get sucked into their stories and develop a real connection to them in the short 50 pages that they occupy her book for.

All of the stories have a strong female protagonist and an equally strong European feel. Even those stories that aren't set in Europe, always have ties to E
Jul 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to K by: Susan KG
Shelves: maybe-it-s-me
While I think this is an author to watch, I felt a bit underwhelmed by this short story collection. I'm not sure if it's that I'm just not a short story person, or if in fact there was something missing here.

The writing was good, and I did get a feel for many of the characters. Despite this, the stories didn't particularly grab me and I did not find any of them particularly memorable even shortly after I'd read them.

Pleasant enough to pass the time with, but not something that will stick with m
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-authors
This is an excellent collection of stories. Marciano's smart elegant prose, her carefully crafted characters along with her unique diverse plots in exotic locations make for a memorable experience.
I personally did not care for the cover as I think it's misleading and will only appeal to women, while in fact these stories can be read and enjoyed by everyone...male or female, young or old. So do not let the cover dissuade you.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Finally, a day to myself when I could sit with it, savor it, finish it.
What's that they used to say in the old Maxwell House coffee commercial? - "good to the last drop". Or was it "the very last drop"? Either way.....
Rachel Watkins
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Marciano's short stories are a delight, a stretch, a challenge, and tiny little universes unto themselves - bravo!
Barksdale Penick
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are some excellent stories in this collection. As sometimes happens when I read a book on Kindle, I did not realize this was a collection of short stories until part way through, when I had begun wondering what happened to to those Italian girls who lost lost their mother. That was my favorite story in the book, perhaps because it has that feature of the best short stories- a little unexpected hook at the end. That story was largely set in Corfu, which was coincidental since at the same ti ...more
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not normally a big fan of short story collections. However, this one was really well done, in that each story captured as many insights as a regular-length novel.

Each of the stories is set in a different country, and (more or less) describes the expatriate experience. We have stories in Africa, Italy, India, and more. What I liked most was the way Marciano shows us that moving, especially to a new country, allows us to reinvent ourselves. "That was the summer when Emma understood that one of
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories
  • Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work
  • Thunderstruck & Other Stories
  • Stay Up With Me
  • The UnAmericans
  • Funny Once
  • Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels: An Advent Anthology (Advent Anthologies, Volume 2)
  • The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story
  • Fools
  • Louisa Meets Bear
  • What's Important Is Feeling: Stories
  • One More Year
  • Starting Over
  • The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy
  • The Stories of Jane Gardam
  • Punto d'ombra
  • The Face: Cartography of the Void
  • The Isle of Youth: Stories
See similar books…
Francesca Marciano is an Italian novelist and a screen writer. She has lived in New York and in Kenya for many years. To date she has written four novels: “Rules of the Wild”, listed as one of the NYT notable books of the year, ”Casa Rossa”, “The End of Manners”,
“The Other Language” shortlisted for the Story prize in 2014. She’s currently living in Rome.
“[she felt] sorry for herself, for getting older, for being mortal, for all the music she still wanted to hear, the books she intended to read, the places she had meant to visit, the things she had promised herself she'd learn one day [...] and probably never would because time was beginning to feel like a fast express train that no longer stopped at all the stations.” 5 likes
“These were the moments that would stick in her memory for years to come, those instants of perfect bliss that nothing else would ever match again.” 3 likes
More quotes…