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A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies—her first in nearly a decade.

Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars. We follow her to the pool she frequents and to the train station that sometimes leads her to her mother, mired in a desperate solitude after her father's untimely death. In addition to colleagues at work, where she never quite feels at ease, she has girl friends, guy friends, and "him," a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. But in the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun's vital heat, her perspective will change.

This is the first novel she has written in Italian and translated into English. It 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.

160 pages, Hardcover

First published August 30, 2018

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About the author

Jhumpa Lahiri

86 books12.4k followers
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.

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple degrees from Boston University: an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She took up a fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted for the next two years (1997-1998).

In 2001, she married Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who was then Deputy Editor of TIME Latin America Lahiri currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. She has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center since 2005.

Lahiri taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Much of her short fiction concerns the lives of Indian-Americans, particularly Bengalis.

She received the following awards, among others:
1999 - PEN/Hemingway Award (Best Fiction Debut of the Year) for Interpreter of Maladies;
2000 - The New Yorker's Best Debut of the Year for Interpreter of Maladies;
2000 - Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut Interpreter of Maladies

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,640 reviews
Profile Image for Jenny Lawson.
Author 12 books16.9k followers
April 4, 2021
A tiny novel about everything and nothing.
Profile Image for Ilse.
447 reviews2,836 followers
May 4, 2021
La solitudine

Whereabouts - Dove mi trovo - my first foray into Jhumpa Lahiri’s work turned out to be her first novel she has written in Italian since she moved from the US to Rome, chose to leave English behind and to write exclusively in Italian instead. When I was reading the book (in Dutch), it had been published already in Italian, Spanish and Dutch, but not yet in English. Other than for her bilingual book In Other Words, Jhumpa Lahiri announced that this time she would self-translate her first novel written in Italian into English. In an interview she deemed ‘the idea of my own creation in Italian not having a life in English yet interesting’, assuming that for translating her book she 'will have to go into a place where she is two people’. In the meantime Lahiri published the English translation of her own book under the title Whereabouts.

Realising I was reading a novel in Dutch that was translated from the Italian written by a Bengali-American author who chose to leave the language she used to write in behind and express herself in a newly acquired foreign language, puzzled me and made me wonder if I was possibly reading Lahiri’s thoughts as if diluted through a double filter. Why an author would chose deliberately to substitute the precision instrument that is one’s mastery of a language for one that can only be a blunter one, rendering what is perhaps solely an approximate expression of one’s thoughts?

In her In Other Words Lahiri clarifies she considers her writing in Italian is a flight, her linguistic metamorphosis an attempt to free herself. And freedom, and the price coming with it, is a central theme of Whereabouts. From the pages sounds the voice of a vulnerable, nameless woman living in a nameless Italian city (which is by several hints identifiable as Rome). A voice that discloses more fragility that the woman is willing to acknowledge, a voice that speaks of solitude and loneliness – a loneliness that is particularly candid and often aching when the middle-aged narrator is with and among others, her friends, her mother, an ex-lover, at a party or in a bar. She ruminates on her childhood, the troubled relationship between her parents, the expectations her mother had of her and which weren’t fulfilled, taking the reader to various places, the university where she teaches, the trattoria where she eats, alone, the bar, the swimming-pool, the supermarket, a friend’s holiday home in the country, the doctor’s waiting room. The joys of being alone and mental tranquillity when she is on her own, writing while sitting in the sun on the balcony of her flat are larded with her observations of others from her outsider’s point of view, contemplating what is and what could have been.


What struck me about this woman for who ‘solitude turned into a profession’ is the uprightness with which Lahiri imparts the concept of freedom: one can be entirely free, but as no man is an island the price to pay for living without compromise is loneliness, and freedom doesn’t countermand the insight that one cannot escape oneself, one’s needs, background and family history – simply oneself.

And so the depiction of this woman’s life reads as a metaphorical journey echoing Lahiri’s transformation, which as well as having freed her also must have made her aware of her inescapable inner boundaries:

"I’ve been writing in Italian for almost two years and I feel that I’ve been transformed, almost reborn. But the change, this new opening, is costly; like Daphne, I, too, find myself confined. I can’t move as I did before, the way I was used to moving in English. A new language, Italian, covers me like a kind of bark. I remain inside: renewed, trapped, relieved, uncomfortable". (from In Other Words).

The title Dove mi trovo (literally: where I find myself) operates on two levels, as both the nameless narrator and Lahiri herself in a way are concerned with their current place in the world, taking stock of their lives and situations.

Is a life on one’s own necessarily a skimpy, barren life? As the impression the narrator leaves behind stays vague, the answer on that question seems ephemeral too. Although when the narrator recounts in one laconic phrase how it suffices for her to get some crumbs of affection that fall from the table of her best friend’s family life in the shape of the attention the friend’s husband devotes to her, I wonder who is she fooling anyway.

Having not yet read anything of Lahiri’s work written in English, it is impossible for me to fathom Lahiri’s transition/transformation as a writer and to compare this first Italian novel to her other narrative work, but I found myself savouring the short chapters eagerly in spite of the absence of any plot, as every word seems so well-chosen and apposite, and the sober descriptions of nature and city life are alluring, without falling into the trap of gushy Italophilia (maybe also because it is not hard to empathise with the ambivalent attitude towards solitude of the middle-aged woman). Nevertheless I closed the book with a hole in my heart, as this book exudes a forlornness, an inner homelessness that no place in the world seems able to cure. Such made me want to give the narrator as well as Jhumpa Lahiri (who both would probably disagree) a big hug, as this book feels so personal I cannot imagine not sensing traces of her own experiences and emotions in it.

This weekend this enlightening article was kindly brought to my attention, in which she elaborates on the origin of this book and announces she has finished writing a collection of short stories (in Italian) and that her first book of poetry - also in Italian - will be published in June - which I thought exciting news, as in the process of learning Italian myself.

Although not capturing Rome but the Italian city of Matera, Federico Scarchilli’s gorgeous picture on the cover of the Dutch edition harmonises wonderfully with the novel.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,161 reviews2,227 followers
March 17, 2023
"I feel sad as I laugh; I didn't know love at her age.
What did I do?
I read books and studied.
I listened to my parents and did what they asked me to. Even though, in the end, I never made them happy.
I didn't like myself, and something told me I'd end up alone."

I like the writing.

First of all, before you pick up this book I would like you to not expect a typical storytelling.

The story is made up of fragments of other characters and taking life each day kind of scenarios which fill up the chapters.

The story tells us about a woman in her 40s living life on her own, reflecting on the life she has lived so far.

I would say it is melancholic at times, depressing at some parts and I would say I felt too bad about the silent loneliness throughout the whole book.

The main parts of the story is made of the people the character met in her life. Weird, selfish, manipulative people and problematic parents.

She knows them, sees them but she knows them more in her mind rather than confront them. It is more like the character owe each of these characters something but she never demanded from them.

Themes handled in the plot have infidelity, mental health conditions and broken families.

At times the narrator feels like they are being a stalker and quite disturbed. You will not like this character. Quite judgemental at times and making assumptions about people they've just met, the character does well with being not able to be in good terms with anyone. But somehow you will be able to relate.

I like the mention of books here and there. I love how the author mentions her love of books in most of her books.

The readers would like the parts which reflect the middle class family background.

You will enjoy this book if you enjoyed books by Sally Rooney and Janice Pariat.

I liked this book more because of the flawless writing.

And that stationery love chapter? I adore it.

My favourite chapters are about the character and her mother. That's complicated but so well-written.

I do feel adults will enjoy this book more. Short book. Just enjoy with a cup of tea. Lots to reflect while reading it I feel.
Profile Image for Violeta.
75 reviews78 followers
June 17, 2021
I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this little ‘story’ of urban loneliness. 150 pages of nuanced prose that reads like a poem. Constructed of the fewest words possible in order to cut to the core of what their writer meant to convey: the outer dialogue of a single woman with her surroundings as she goes through the motions of her every day life; and the deeply rich inner monologue that accompanies this same existence.

The place is an unnamed city, somewhere in Italy; it could be Rome but that’s only a guess, it could be any old town where past and present meet. The time is an unspecified present spanning the course of a year, complete with all the scenic props the change of seasons entails. The unnamed narrator is a 40ish dottoressa in the local university who has consciously chosen to lead a life quite detached from intimate relationships. Throughout nearly 50 vignettes/chapters with titles like “On the Sidewalk”, “In the Piazza”, “On the Couch”, “At Dawn”, "In the Mirror”, “In My Head”, we get glimpses of her solitary life – and in the process we put together the personal landscape the author set out to paint.

Lahiri has always been adept at describing emotional depths with spare literary means: the simplest words, the least elaborate sentences.
Starting from her previous book In Other Words and advancing the challenge she undertook when she decided to start writing in a language other than English (I am reluctant to use the term ‘mother tongue’ since her mother’s was actually Bengali), she’s driving her no-frills prose to new heights here. She wrote this one in Italian sometime before translating it herself in English. As I constantly find myself trying to communicate in a language that’s not my own, I have the utmost admiration for what authors like Lahiri are doing. There’s a lot of effort involved in choosing the right word from the assortment available in a dictionary that hasn’t got a clue of the subtle difference between, say, loneliness, solitude, privacy or reclusiveness. Never mind trying to achieve a personal tone of voice, as distinguishable as the one in my mother language. Nabokov made it seem as something easily attainable – it is nothing but. However, being able to not only talk but think in another language is an alluring challenge and a rather innocuous escape from one’s self that is well worth the trouble, in my opinion.

It should be said that there’s not much of a plot here, not in the traditional sense. But because the story is deliberately vague, a sort of build-up game is offered to its readers who are invited to make what they want of its missing details, reasons and possibilities. In almost every chapter I found thoughts or gestures that could have been my own although the particulars of my life couldn’t have been further from those of that woman. Are they really, I wonder… Solitude and its management is after all part of our lives much more than we’d care (or dare) to admit.

I started this write-up with the phrase “I can’t begin to tell you”. I realize it’s only a figure of speech; but I’ll make use of my non-native-speaker status and proclaim that, indeed, I can: the minute I reached the last page I returned to the first and started reading this all over again. Lahiri’s double-translated words (Italian to English by her, English to Greek in my own mind) had an even more soothing and satisfactory effect the second time around!


Because when all is said and done the setting doesn’t matter: the space, the walls, the light. It makes no difference whether I’m under a clear blue sky or caught in the rain or swimming in the transparent sea in summer. I could be riding a train or traveling by car or flying in a plane, among the clouds that drift and spread on all sides like a mass of jellyfish in the air. I’ve never stayed still, I’ve always been moving, that’s all I’ve ever been doing. Always waiting either to get somewhere or to come back. Or to escape. I keep packing and unpacking the small suitcase at my feet. I hold my purse in my lap, it’s got some money and a book to read. Is there any place we’re not moving through? Disoriented, lost, at sea, at odds, astray, adrift, bewildered, confused, uprooted, turned around. I’m related to these related terms. These words are my abode, my only foothold.

Many thanks to Ilse, whose insightful review (of the Dutch-translated edition!) https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... gave me early notice of the publication of this latest book of a favorite author.
Profile Image for Ron Charles.
1,024 reviews48.3k followers
April 20, 2021
Blame Hemingway.

Since Papa published “The Sun Also Rises” in 1926, a subgenre of literary fiction has swelled around Depressed Guys Wandering. For a certain kind of dead serious writer, it is an irresistible pose. Stripped of anything so lowbrow as a plot, these slim, grim novels offer a flatlined vision of life reduced to its terrifying aimlessness. You can spot such books because they are praised as “exquisitely nuanced,” and they are exceedingly tedious.

One thing that can be said about Jhumpa Lahriri’s new novel, “Whereabouts,” is that by adding to this gray subgenre, it strikes a victory for female representation. Lahriri, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for her first collection of stories, “Interpreter of Maladies,” is a careful explorer of subterranean emotional pain. She wrote “Whereabouts” in Italian and then translated it into English, which contributes to its sheen of deliberateness and distance.

The story is about a lonely, unnamed woman in Italy, where Lahiri lived for several years. The narrator tells us early on, “I’m saturated by a vague sense of dread.” If publishing were just a little more savvy, every copy of “Whereabouts” would come with a coupon for online therapy. . . .

To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,109 reviews8,024 followers
May 5, 2021
[2.5 stars]

Feeling more like an exercise than a fully formed novel, Whereabouts marks Lahiri's return to fiction for the first time in nearly 8 years. We follow an unnamed female narrator in her mid-40s who lives, presumably, in Italy. Everything is anonymized. She has no strong ties to anyone or anything, though she mentions her family (in passing or in reflective moments on old memories) and her co-workers, nothing is concrete.

The story unfolds in vignettes, sometimes only a single page long, all triggered by her location, with chapter titles such as: On the Street, In the Piazza, In My Head, At the Beautician, etc. Though it covers around one year of her life (context clues are given by occasional references to the seasons), the happenings are very interior. She's observant and detached from her surroundings, mentioning her romantic flings with a coldness that keeps the reader at a distance as well.

My biggest issue with this book was its navel-gazing. That can be done with finesse, but I found this novel to ultimately leaving me wondering: So what? I like character-driven stories with beautiful writing; I don't need a plot. But when a 109 page novel starts to drag, you've lost me. I didn't care for our narrator much, though she wasn't abhorrent by any means. I just never got to really know her very well. The only moments that glittered and showed potential were her internal conflicts around her parents and formative moments from her childhood. If she'd explored that more, rather than wandering the city and using each short chapter to muse about some random topic, I would've felt more invested in her story.

Though I love Lahiri and highly recommend her short stories, I continue to struggle with her longer form narratives. She's a brilliant thinker, and often captures some glittering moment of life in a way that's poetic and compelling (even in this novel the way she describes dishware, the thick ceramic juxtaposed with brittle stemware moved me). But I find that perhaps she loses steam a little by focusing too much on process and not enough on progress.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,910 reviews35.3k followers
May 20, 2021
Library overdrive...Audiobook....read by Susan Vinciotti Bonito
3 hours and 23 minutes

“When there was nothing left to say, we went out for a meal”
Nice plan!
I have little to say about this book — kinda neutral ....
......It gave me the moody blues. ....I’d like a nap now!

The writing was filled with pretty words .....and sentences.....but I keep having thoughts that Lahiri is practicing her Italian writing on us while hoping her past reputation will hold long enough until she gets her groove back.

Personally....I’m a little tired about the emphasis that Lahiri wrote this in Italian....then translated it to English.

“Unaccustomed Earth” and “Interpreter of Maladies” ....were my ‘very’ favorite Lahiri books...

Moving right along.....sending love to my friends....
And....(just sharing).... contemplating once again, and it’s not been the first time I've said this --
I’d kinda like to retire from writing reviews--
I’m clear now that I won’t leave this site --its is kinda ‘home’ for me ....
But.....I may ‘slowly’ start to cut back and or cut down.

3 stars
Profile Image for Ines.
317 reviews185 followers
November 19, 2019
I was very impressed by this reading, I didn’t really think to find pages and pages of complete loneliness and melancholy....
Jhumpa lists many places where we w will find her female character ( unknown name) by giving an accurate description of the actions and feelings felt in that particular place.
What unites all the pages is this sense of total abandonment to the impossibility of enjoying life, everything is crushed by this dark and sad vision of oblivion and sadness.
A total solitude that sincerely suffocates the reader, the protagonist seems deliberately created without the possibility to ask and give herself the reason of things and without strength and desire for a "real" change. In Italian we’ll call it a "piagnona".
The writing is very delicate, as Italian, I understand and feel her search for syntactically word by word., and i have read with tenderness some small words here and there still "unripe" in its typical construction. or the very correct use in the real Dante’s Italian, like "ambascia" or " vescicose" reading them warmed my heart.
I only hope that she did not have in her heart that depressed vision if not jealous of the reality described there, otherwise Juhmpa, what a great woman you are!!

Sono rimasta molto colpita da questa lettura, non pensavo proprio di trovare pagine e pagine di totale e completa solitudine e melanconia....
Jhumpa elenca molti posti dove verrà a trovarsi un personaggio femminile cui mai si conoscerà il nome, facendo cosi un accurata descrizione delle azioni e dei sentimenti provati da questa donna in quei luoghi.
Ciò che accomuna tutte le pagine è questo senso di totale abbandono all' impossibilità di godere della vita, tutto è schiacciato da questa visione cupa e mesta di oblio e tristezza.
Una solitudine totale che sinceramente soffoca alla fine il lettore, la protagonista sembra volutamente creata senza la possibilità di chiedersi e donarsi il perchè delle cose e senza forza e desiderio "vero"di cambiamento. In Italiano la chiameremo " una piagnona".
La scrittura è delicatissima, da italiana, capisco questo suo ricercare sintatticamente parola per parola.. leggendo con tenerezza qualche piccola frase qua e là ancora acerba nella sua costruzione tipica., o l'utilizzo correttissimo nel vero italiano dantesco, come "ambascia" o " vescicose" che a leggerle mi si è scaldato il cuore.
Mi auguro solo che non abbia avuto nel cuore quella visione depressa se non gelosa della realtà ivi descritta, per il resto Juhmpa, che grandissima donna che sei!!
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,389 reviews2,270 followers
February 18, 2021
Whereabouts takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. Reading this book is like reading art.

This book is beyond beautiful, the writing is precise, moving, and gives you this calming effect that you are exactly where you need to be. In Whereabouts we follow a woman who is a professor at a university, Lahiri takes us through her daily wonderings to the supermarket, vacation, pool and friend’s dinner. We get the inner workings of her mind, how she views herself, the people and the world around her. There is a strong presence of aloneness but strength in owning your time and being fine with being alone.

I think what I love about this book is that there is an undercurrent of loneliness but never in a depressing way. I loved that the author focused on a single middle-aged woman without children who is seemingly good at her job and has built a live and home she likes for herself. Yes, it is clear she may have some regrets but there is peace about the way she decided to live her life and that for me was so affirming.

If you love people watching this is a perfect novel for you. The character’s ability to take us into their world and show us what they are seeing was seamlessly and flawlessly executed. I felt I was there experiencing life with the main character. It was like getting this inclusive intel into this person’s life, while it is not super life changing it gets increasingly interesting. The author’s ability to write about the ordinary things such as going to the pool and making it interesting is what got me. I was thoroughly invested.

This is a character I will think about for years to come. I will definitely be going about my business and thinking, “ I wonder how she’s doing?”. When I closed the book, I felt like I was leaving my friend behind. I think it was the solace for me, there is something deeply moving about a character who firmly stands in who they are, know exactly what they want and continue to live wholeheartedly.

I cannot recommend this book enough. This may be one of my favourite books for 2021.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,690 reviews14.1k followers
June 1, 2021
A middle aged woman, never named, in an unknown city, this book contains over 40 vignettes. The woman is a people watcher, a depressive and wants to connect with others, but also loves her solitude. An internal rendering of daily events in a life, she explains what she does and what she thinks, about events, and people. Does she want more, less? She's not certain and so neither are we the readers. A plotless book, there is no clear path to the denouement. What does it all mean?

Her first book in Italian, translated to English, I had no problem with her writing. Different from her other books, one can see at various times, glimpses of old self, her previous works. But for me, she didn't quite get there. It's a short book, but one whose focus is centered on one person and her experiences. Is this enough? Think each reader will have to decide this for themselves.

ARC from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for luce (tired and a little on edge).
1,417 reviews3,401 followers
April 10, 2022
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re-read: I was curious to read Lahiri's self-translation, just to see whether I would like it us much as the original, and I can confirm that I did. I'm glad Lahiri translated the novel herself and I can't actually decide if I preferred this English translation or its original Italian version. Anyway, I loved re-experiencing the story through a different lens.

Dove mi trovo, which will be published in English as Whereabouts next spring, is the first novel Jhumpa Lahiri's has written in Italian. Having read, and deeply empathised with, Lahiri's In Other Words—a nonfiction work in which she interrogates her love for and struggles with the Italian language—I was looking forward to Dove mi trovo. Although I bought this book more than a year ago, during my last trip to Italy, part of me wasn't ready to read it just yet. A teensy-weensy part me feared that I would find her Italian to be stilted. As it turns out, I should have not second-guessed Lahiri.

This novel consists in a series of short chapters, between 2 to 6 pages long, in which we follow a nameless narrator as she occupies different spaces. The titles of these chapters in fact refer to the place—not always a 'physical' one such as in the case of the recurring 'Tra sé e sé' chapters (an expression that for the life of me I cannot translate in English)—she is in or thinking of. She's on the street, in a bar, a restaurant, a museum, her apartment, by the seaside...you get the gist. The novel takes place during a single year, and our narrator will often remark on the current season. She's a solitary woman, and although she's deeply aware of her loneliness, she's not burdened by it. It is perhaps because she's alone that she can get lost in her surroundings or in her thoughts. Even in those occasions where she interacts with others—who also remain unmanned and are referred to as her former lover, her friend, a professor, etc—she remains a lonely person. By seeing the way she interacts or navigates certain spaces, we learn more about her. Ultimately, however, she retains an air of mystery.
One should not approach this novel hoping for a plot-driven novel. Dove mi trovo is very much about language. Lahiri's Italian is crisp and deceptively simple. There are observations or conversations that are rendered with clarity, and there are passages that convey a sense of disquiet. While I can't say whether Lahiri always articulated phrases like an Italian would, I didn't notice any Englishism on her part. I loved the way Lahiri articulated her phrases and the correct if démodé terms she used.
While Lahiri's 'Italian voice' differs from the one in her English works, Dove mi trovo is the kind of quietly reflective and deeply nostalgic novel that I would happily revisit time and again.
Profile Image for sAmAnE.
459 reviews77 followers
October 28, 2021
چقدر قشنگ در مورد روزمرگی‌هایی که شاید به نظرمون کم اهمیت باشند ، نوشته بود... چقدر عالی بود ... چقدر دوستش داشتم.... بعضی جاهاش چقدر حرف‌ها و فکرهای خودم بود🌻
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,743 reviews1,189 followers
May 4, 2021
Disoriented, lost, at sea, at odds, astray, adrift, bewildered, confused, severed, turned around.
I spring from these terms. These words are my abode, my only foothold.

This novella was written by the Booker shortlisted (and Pulitzer Prize winning) author Jhumpa Lahiri in Italian, a language with which she has said that she fell in love since first visiting the country in 1994 prior to moving to Rome), one in which she has written and from which she has translated (most noticably a novel by Domenico Starnone – an author at the heart of Elena Ferrante identify claims). Published successfully in Italian and already translated into a number of European languages, this English translation is by the author herself.

The book is set out in a series of short chapters – set over a year, in which the unnamed narrator, living in the unnamed City (which seems to be Rome) in which she was born traces her life over the course of a year. With a small number of exceptions, each chapter is set in a location (the sidewalk, the street, at the trattoria, in the bookstore, in the waiting room, at my house, in bed), time (In Spring, In August, In Winter) with a few set “In My Head” (I believe these are 'Tra sé e sé' in the original).

In each, in a first person present tense, the narrator – an academic who lives alone – describes both her own life and the lives of others and the City around her, and reflects on a number of relationships (her mother – with whom she had a tumultuous relationship as a child and teenager but who is now old and frail; her frugal father – who largely distanced himself from the mother-daughter rows, old lovers, and a married friend with whom the never acted on possibility of an affair serves as background music to their interactions). The sense is of someone who enjoys a solitary life, something of an observer – but also someone who seems (as the opening quote to my review implies) something of an outsider searching for a sense of place and identity.

The writing is elegant, but also slightly rather restrained. If I had a mild disappointment with the book it is that I had hoped the process of writing in a third language (the author’s mother tongue was Bengali) and self-translating into English – would mean that the author would bring a new perspective to English – a new way of assembling the language to explore and express ideas – and I did not really sense that (in fact in some ways the opposite - a perhaps deliberate downplay of English).

The book in Italian is “Dove mi trovo”, which word for word would be perhaps “Where I find myself” and as an expression perhaps “Where I am”. The Spanish translation of “Donde me encuentro”, whereas the German and Dutch split the two ways of translating it - “Wo ich mich finde” and “Waar ik nu ben” respectively. So I was a little puzzled at the title “Whereabouts” – and think “Where I find myself” would have worked better. I have (just ahead of publication) read an interview where the author says she spent months thinking of the English title and eventually picked it as “whereabouts is an incredibly English word: it doesn’t even have Latin roots” which somehow gives me the sense of a deliberate distancing of the English translation from its original.

I was also puzzled by the passage with which I open my review. Only because I had seen it in an English language review on Goodreads of the Italian book, but I had searched for this excerpt as I loved the original Italian of “disorientata, persa, sbalestrata, sballata, sbandata, scombussolata, smarrita, spaesata, spiantata, stranita” - with its mixture of alphabetical ordering and clustering and its alliteration (and the great sixth word).

So while the English translation above keeps the alphabetical ordering, and a rough literal word-for-word translation it loses for me the real unique essence of the sentence (even rather losing the rhythm by adding composite words). Now this could be simply the author feeling that her old flame of English can no longer match the promise of her new Latin lover – but I would think that “dis” could and should have served for the negative of “s” and so picked up both the alliteration and clustering, and why not use the literal translation “discombobulated”? Again I have the feeling that the English translation is being almost deliberately distanced and even downplayed.

However I would stress that my Italian is almost non-existent - so this is less a criticism of the translation but of the resulting experience of an English reader.

Definitely though a worthwhile read and one I would not be surprised at all to see longlisted for the Booker – although this time the International 2022 version (the 2021 prize being the first to feature a self-translated book).

My thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
468 reviews215 followers
June 4, 2022
جومپا لاهیری در کتاب همین حوالی ، به زندگی روز مره یک زن میانسال در ایتالیا پرداخته ، راوی داستان در 46 بخش کوتاه زندگی خود را با جزئیات شرح داده است .
راوی که فرد تنهایی ایست ، با دقتی بسیاردر حال و احوال محیط پیرامون ، فروشندگان ، مغازه ها ، سیر کرده و آنچه دیده است را برای خواننده روایت می کند . در داستان او می توان اُنس راوی را با محیط پیرامون یا همین حوالی دید . تنهایی و زمان زیاد دو عنصر اصلی داستان هستند که هر یک به گونه ای راوی داستان را می آزارند . او انزوا را مستلزم ارزیابی دقیق زمان می داند ، به پول داخل کیف می ماند : باید بدانی چقدر وقت برای تلف
کردن داری

اما تنهایی به او حس راکد ماندن و ساکن شدن را نمی دهد ، او هرگز یک جا بند نمی شود ، همیشه در حرکت است ، او خود را سرگشته ، گمشده ، در دریا ، خلاف جهت ، گمراه ، آواره ، پریشان ، گیج ، بی خانمان و برگشته می داند . او جایی از خود ندارد . او این کلمات را سکونتگاه خود می داند ، تنها سرپناه امن
Profile Image for Lorna.
649 reviews352 followers
May 13, 2021
Whereabouts is the latest novel by Jhumpa Lahiri that is captivating not only because of the beautiful prose but the dreamlike quality to the book as we follow an unknown narrator through an unknown city in Italy for an entire year. And the fifth shining star was given because Lahiri moved to Italy quite a few years ago embracing the country, the culture and the language. She wrote this book in Italian and then translated it herself into English. Brava Signorina!!!

Lahiri's book explores and celebrates ordinary life as it ponders how we all fit together as well as apart as we go forward. It is during this time that our unknown narrator not only explores where she is now in her life but where she has come from and how that has shaped her and where she may or should go in the future. There are so many layers and textures with Lahiri's poetic prose as she explores family and community, goals and dreams. And a few of her poignant quotations:

"Every blow of my life took place in spring. Each lasting sting. That's why Im afflicted by the green of the trees, the first peaches in the market, the light of flowing skirts that the women in my neighborhood start to wear. These things only remind me of loss, of betrayal, of disappointment. I dislike waking up and feeling pushed inevitably forward. But today, Saturday, I don't have to leave the house."

"I'm about to leave but then I stop, I take off my jacket and start looking for a necklace to perk up my dress, it must be here somewhere, in some jewelry box (though I prefer 'joy box' for 'portagioie,' which, come to think of it , is the most beautiful of Italian words)."

"The town, practically abandoned this afternoon, starts to drown in a piercing light. We're doubled over by a sharp wind and our eyes are filled with tears. We see the church at the top of the hill, and an ancient olive tree decorated with shiny red balls, in place of a Christmas tree. The higher we climb, the more we feel the wind and the cold. We're enfolded by the wide-open space, enclosed by all that emptiness."

"Even though I can't draw, I'd like one of those sketchbooks, hand bound with thick cream-colored paper."

"The father oversees the fountain pens stored in a glass case, as if they were precious jewels, bottles of ink lined up like costly perfumes."
Profile Image for Barbara.
267 reviews204 followers
August 7, 2021
The unnamed protagonist of Whereabouts is a 40-something-year-old Italian woman. The short entries are very much like pages of a diary. Each tells about a person she knows or a place she has gone, often with recollections of her unhappy childhood. There is no plot, rather inconsequential observations by this mysterious woman of solitude.

Although Lahiri's writing is sparse and the book is short, I felt her observations were very poignant. Lahiri is one of those writers who can convey much with few words. I felt like I came to know this woman; a woman who could be from anywhere.

I have read most of Lahiri's work. I admire her tenacity in immersing herself in the Italian culture and language, writing this novel in Italian, and translating it into English. Whether she writes first in Italian or English, her writing is exquisite. I look forward to any future book written in English or in translation.
Profile Image for Olivia (Stories For Coffee).
585 reviews5,587 followers
June 26, 2021
sonder (n.) the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own

A meditative, slow-moving read compiling mundane moments in life that may seem unimportant but actually hold value.

The ending felt a bit abrupt, but I love novels like this, just rich with descriptions and very introspective
Profile Image for Essareh.
79 reviews1 follower
October 19, 2021
[فکر کنم یه کم بیشتر از چهار]

احساس می‌کنم بیشتر کلمات این کتاب، نشست توی وجودم. خیلی ناگهانی گرفتمش و این شیرین‌ترش کرد. توی موقعیت نسبتاً مناسبی خوندمش و همین باعث شد که از ته دل دوستش داشته باشم.

به بقیه هم پیشنهاد می‌کنم؟ نمی‌دونم. از سلیقه شما خبر ندارم. از شخصیت و زندگیتون هم بی‌خبرم. من فقط زنی رو می‌شناسم که همین حوالیه؛ تو کتابخونه‌م زندگی می‌کنه. روزهاش تکراری و بی‌هیجانه و همینش جذبم می‌کنه. شاید شما رو هم جذب کنه، شاید نکنه. نمی‌دونم.

از عنوان کتاب خوشم می‌آد. فکر می‌کنم به بعضی‌ها می‌گه: «همین حوالی تو آدم‌هایی هستن که وجودشون برات پررنگ نیست. ولی خب، اونا هستن. هستن... و... همین.»
به بعضی‌ها هم می‌گه: «تو تنها نیستی و آدم‌های شبیه تو وجود دارن. اون‌ها همین حوالین.»

به هرحال، برای راحت‌تر شناختن این افراد، یا برای احساس تنهایی کمتر، داستان یه زنی توی پیاتزا می‌تونه کمکتون کنه.

پ‌ن: پیاتزا؟ این ایتالیایی‌ها هم که همه چیزشون مثل پیتزاست. آه پیتزا!
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
440 reviews656 followers
June 4, 2021
Oh this one pains me. I love reading Lahiri's books. One of her books is in my top all time favorites. She is an author that I beg my library for her books without even reading what they are about. I did the same her, but in the end, I was disappointed with this one.

Whereabouts seemed like someone was reading diary entries to me. A middle aged woman, unnamed, living in some city (probably somewhere in Italy) tells her 'stories' of her daily encounters. No real story there, just pieces of thoughts here and there. Lahiri made a move to Italy some time ago and since her writing has changed a bit. With her previous novels, she wrote in English. Here, she wrote this in Italian and then she translated it to English. This is a short book. Perhaps it was more of a goal of writing a book in Italian, and then do the translation vs a story.

This one was a buddy read with Dana where I felt I pushed 'gotta read Lahiri' and in the end, we both felt it was OK. I will still continue to add blindly anything that she writes. But might need to revisit one her earlier books next.
Profile Image for B. H..
169 reviews135 followers
January 22, 2021
I am honestly quite perplexed to find this book's page brimming with fairly positive reviews. While I understand what Lahiri was trying to do here (an exploration of solitude and alienation told in a series of vignettes from the perspective of a middle-aged single woman who lives alone in an unnamed city), it did not work for me. Although the book was short and the chapters even shorter, I struggled to finish it. The writing was flat, the descriptions fairly dull and the narrator's observations fell between the clichéd and the pedestrian. The best way I can describe this book is that it reminded me of those writing exercises you do in foreign language classes, where they ask you to keep a diary and describe something you've seen or done during a particular day.

There were flashes of the type of brilliant insight I expect from a writer of Lahiri's caliber, but they were few and far between.

And this might be petty, but I take some issue with how she translated the Svevo quote that is used as the epigraph to the book. Lahiri's translation reads:

"Whenever my surroundings change I feel enormously sad. This is especially true if the place I leave behind is linked to memories, grief, or happiness. It's the change itself that unsettles me[.]"

Except that that is not what the original Italian says. A more accurate (and logical) translation would be: "Whenever my surroundings change I feel enormously sad. And if the place I leave behind is linked to memories, grief, or happiness, that does not magnify my sadness. It's the change itself that unsettles me[.]"

Not my best translation, but you get the gist. Overall, I was not really impressed with this one.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,416 reviews534 followers
September 13, 2021
[3.3] The short, diary-like vignettes that comprise this novel are nicely formed and effortless to read. The narrator broods about her life, observes and judges those around her and remembers bits of her past. She is prickly and adrift. I think it is admirable that Lahiri wrote in Italian and translated her work into English. An interesting experiment, but I found the novel more pointless than poignant.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,698 followers
August 27, 2021
Novel doesn't feel like the correct descriptor for this slim and delicate self-portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Fictional Memoir or Dramatized Journal, perhaps. But whereas the plot is slender, the story is as fat and ripe and juicy as a late summer Italian plum.

An unnamed narrator in an unnamed Italian city recounts a year in her life through a series of short, simple, quiet vignettes, each stamped by a "whereabout" in her life: In the Hotel; By the Sea; In My Head, At the Coffee Bar, etc. She is a university professor in her mid-forties, single, never married, mourning her father who died when she was fifteen, and feeling vaguely guilty about her aging mother, who also lives alone in another city. She's an understated introvert in an ebullient culture that values large groups of friends and family members, that prizes abundance in its art, music and food. She carefully segments her time to fill the spaces in her life: the hours at work, meals in local trattoria, twice-weekly swims, reading before bed, the weekend's empty hours when she can hide under the covers all day if she chooses.

The vagueness of the narrator and her location and the abstract way she views her life unmoors the reader and leaves her feeling adrift. Yet, I cannot think of a more elegant and stirring representation of this past year and a half of isolation and sadness and anxiety than this lovely book. It's astonishing that Lahiri published her novel in its original Italian in 2015 — years before the pandemic and its lockdowns and forced distancing — presenting her own translation this year. The narrator embodies our pandemic sense of loss, giving voice to how it feels to wander through one's own life like a ghost. The pared down style is incredibly refreshing; for this introvert it's like entering a conversation without all the small talk bullshit that is my personal nails down a chalkboard. Like a poem, every word has weight and meaning here; it forces you to stop and listen, to reflect deeply.

I can't get over how such a slender work can contain such multitudes. I read Whereabouts in an evening and through an hour's stretch of insomnia later that night. I was prepared not to enjoy this; I wasn't prepared to be so sad to see it end.

I think my review may be longer than the actual book. That tells you something. I loved it.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,391 reviews2,372 followers
February 23, 2021
Is there any place we're not moving through? Disoriented, lost, at sea, at odds, astray, adrift, bewildered, confused, severed, turned around. I spring from these terms. These words are my abode, my only foothold

So, this is my second try at Lahiri (after I DNF'd her Interpreter of Maladies) and I have to conclude that she's not a writer for me. Her prose has the kind of exacting tone that I often like but this pared back set of vignettes almost feels like a parody of the voice of Rachel Cusk's Fay from her Outline trilogy, but without the experimental innovation or the interest. This also reminded me of Deborah Levy but without the insight, the 'grab' factor or Levy's bursts of sardonic humour, with a bit of Katie Kitamura's intense navel-gazing in A Separation.

There are themes of rootlessness and loneliness, of alienation and lack of connection, and a trend towards movement after stasis as the text progresses but whether that's towards change or just another temporary resting place is unclear. There are mentions of a troubled mother-daughter relationship, of a broken love affair, of potential ungrabbed and unachieved. The unnamed narrator acknowledges that she keeps aloof from her work colleagues and that they might perceive her as 'prickly, unpleasant' but to acknowledge is enough for her, she's not interested in correcting or reaching out.

The prose style is peaceful, restrained, moderate, unhurried - it never changes pace and is straightforward to read. I don't know - this just feels underwhelming to me, a sort of generic version of contemporary 'literary women's writing' that never engaged or connected with me - instantly forgettable, in my case, I'm afraid.

Thanks, anyway, to Bloomsbury for an ARC via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,037 followers
June 13, 2021
Jhumpa Lahiri moved to Italy in 2011 and it shifted her writing life as well. This book was published in Italy in 2018 as "Dove mi trovo," which translates as "Where I find myself." It was translated into English by the author and published in 2021.

I read it because it was selected for the summer Camp ToB for the Tournament of Books. The audio is only 3.5 hours so the print must be very short.

It feels like Cusk or Levy or anyone who writes short autofiction. It's composed of short slice of life pieces from the point of of view of a woman living in Italy. They form a picture of a whole but I'm not sure how memorable any one piece is. At the same time, as I read this I kept wishing I wrote about my own life this way, at least just for myself. And maybe autofiction isn't quite the right label, maybe observational fiction is more appropriate.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,663 reviews442 followers
September 6, 2021
"Whereabouts" is a slender novel composed of a series of vignettes about an unnamed, introverted, female narrator. Jhumpa Lahiri wrote the book when she was living in Rome, and the chapter titles such as "At the Trattoria" and "In the Piazza" indicate an Italian setting.

Each chapter is a moment in time with a middle-aged college professor who lives alone. The book is written in first person so we only read the narrator's point of view concerning her life. She is very introspective, and examines the joys and sadness of solitude. She enjoys walking in her neighborhood and associating with others for a short time, but then needs to go back to her routine, quiet life. The narrator is highly observant, and there seems to be a promise of some small changes in her life as the book ends. The novel is character-driven with very little plot.

The book was first published in 2018 before the pandemic, but the author was very skilled in writing about social isolation. Jhumpa Lahiri wrote the book first in Italian, then self-translated it to English. Her prose is spare and sometimes heartbreaking, and the forty-six vignettes give the reader a melancholy portrait of an introspective woman. "Whereabouts" is not for everyone, but will be enjoyed by readers who like literary fiction.
Profile Image for Paul Fulcher.
Author 2 books1,167 followers
April 13, 2021
Whereabouts is translated by Jhumpra Lahiri from her own Italian language Dove mi trovo which predates the English, and which will make this eligible for the 2022 International Booker Prize.

Her previous three novels which I've read - The Namesake (2003), Unaccustomed Earth (2008) and The Lowland (2013) were all written in English although I have also read her translation of Domenico Starnone's Lacci as Ties (my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), a book it's difficult not to see as a response to Elena Ferrante's I giorni dell'abbandono, translated as The Days of Abandonment by Ann Goldstein.

Lahiri did publish a previous Italian language non-fiction piece, In altre parole in 2015, describing her love affair with the Italian language, which was translated into English by the same Ann Goldstein.

As my brother, aka Gumble's Yard, points out in his review of Whereabouts, for a self-translated novel there are some odd translation choices, and it's difficult to see that the process of writing in one language and translating back to another has added much to the reader's experience. See https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The novel itself is a series of vignettes, observations, written by a woman in her late 40s living in a city (presumably in Italy). She is oddly distant from those around her, enjoying it seems being surrounded by people, but without wanting any intimacy or real lasting connection with them. Something expressed neatly in one vignette:

In Bed

This evening as I read in bed I hear the roar of cars that speed down the road beneath my apartment. And the fact of their passing makes me aware of my own stillness. I can only fall asleep when I hear them. And when I wake up in the middle of the night, always at the same time, it’s the absolute silence that interrupts my sleep. That’s the hour when there’s not a car on the road, when no one needs to get anywhere. My sleep grows lighter and lighter and then it abandons me entirely. I wait until someone, anyone, turns up on the road. The thoughts that come to roost in my head in those moments are always the gloomiest, also the most precise. That silence, combined with the black sky, takes hold over me until the first light returns and dispels those thoughts, until I hear the presence of lives passing by along the road below me.

As Roman Clodia's review (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) points out the effect is rather like a lesser version of Rachel Cusk's Faye from her trilogy, and the novel felt oddly unsatisfying although it came together more powerfully at the end, as the narrator looks to leave the city, and it also becomes clear how her personality is a result of her father and mother's respective temperaments and their troubled family relationship.

As with the other three novels of the author I've read, 3 stars

Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for the ARC.
Profile Image for Richard.
1,764 reviews146 followers
December 30, 2020
What a beautiful piece of literature. From the first page to the last, the writing is exquisite and melodious, giving you a sense of comfort and wellbeing.

Jhumpa Lahiri turns the everyday into the vibrancy of life. The routine and familiar into aspects of intimacy and passion we would otherwise miss. I could spend time in the company of the narrator without thought of where else I needed to be. Now removed from her conversation I feel a sense of regret and loss.

Originally written in Italian it is translated by the author herself and it reveals her poetic soul. The language is enchanting. You feel warm through your whole being. More a reflection on the wonder of life and the things around you. You don’t feel like a confident listening to gossip; you don’t feel you are just nodding in the right places. You feel part of the woman’s life, as integral to her being and presence as her shoes. Not just seeing with her eyes but engaging all your senses.

This is beyond storytelling. It is fiction that borders on a reality that lifts the characters from the page and has you wishing you could independently reach out to them.

This book is charming. It will appeal to everyone, especially single and career minded women like the narrator or men who easily fall in love. It is about the simple things in life we might allow to pass us by in our daily rush and dash.
It is a celebration of life and the pleasures of Italy.

I loved the style and content of short chapters that were like a lived in news report, personal, honest and self-effacing. The short articles have a continuity and a passing chronology that builds up into a bigger picture and lifts the prose beyond just random diary entries.

It is an unusual style of fiction; this almost factual recounting of travels and observations. It has completely won me over to this writer and left me feeling more alert to seeing rather than just being. Whether being somewhere, time spent with someone or engaged in a mundane task.

It is life-affirming and a feel good book you could give to anyone. (Short instalments, unlike a novel. Never trying to be preachy, like a “thought for the day”) The recipient of this book will be forever grateful to you.
Profile Image for Trudie.
519 reviews551 followers
June 23, 2021

Solitude demands a precise assessment of time, I've always understood this. It's like the money in your wallet: you have to know how much time you need to kill, how much to spend before dinner, what's left over before going to bed

A pleasant evening can be had spent in the company of this short novel, perhaps less a novel more a collection of observations. Delicate vignettes, entitled things like: "In the Sun", "Upon waking," "On the couch" and "At the cash register" give the reader a sense of the languid pace of the action ahead.
This is the kind of writing that is easy to slap the label 'navel-gazing' upon but that would be ungracious. Not everything has to be "oh! look at the state of the world", it can be about solitude, the pleasure of figs and the delights of the local stationery shop. 
These reflections are admirable and recognisable, in much the same way muted still life paintings of say, apples, are. But after gazing dutifully upon the thoughts of a woman in her late 40s living alone in Italy ( I presume, due to all the piazza's and good coffee ) you might be ready for something radical to happen. "Whereabouts" is not that novel, it is an introspective, mood piece and since "late-40s woman that likes stationary" is a tribe I happen to identify with, I found many things to admire about it. 
Readers familiar with Lahiri's earlier critically acclaimed work ( Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, The Lowland ) might find this new novel quite a departure from her previous themes of the immigrant Indian -American experience. Whereabouts, was first written in Italian and only recently translated into English by the author. This translation process has somehow transmuted daily impressions into a series of aloof yet beautiful Italian miniatures, best dipped into when the need for a few pages of calm reflection is required. 

Profile Image for Julie.
1,904 reviews38 followers
May 4, 2022
I feel a bit ambivalent about this book. I chose to listen to the audiobook, which is short at 3 hours, 23 minutes. At first, I thought I was listening to a book of very short stories and felt a bit disorientated until I realized it was one story with very short chapters and the narrator was reading the chapter headings. There are 46 chapters and shortest chapter is one-minute long, and the longest is 10-minutes long, most are somewhere in between.

There is an overall feeling of gloom or melancholy to the tale as we follow an unnamed narrator through her days and while some phrases stirred my consciousness, most of it washed over me and the feeling of disorientation never really quite dissipated.

Quote that got my attention:

About her mother: "Why do I feel so assailed by what she says, by a string of simple facts? Why do I immediately start to panic? Once again I feel suspended, unable to step between the tree-stumps of my childhood, frozen in front of the precipice."
Profile Image for Helly.
190 reviews3,333 followers
January 25, 2023
“When you change houses you always lose something. Every move betrays you, it always cheats you somehow. I’m still looking for certain things. That brooch that belonged to my mother, nothing valuable, but it meant something to me. Then there’s my old address book. Even though I don’t need it anymore, I liked thumbing through it now and then. I’d saved ticket stubs, certain receipts, a small photograph of your father when he was young, before we’d met, what a handsome fellow he was. I look and look but I can’t find it. There are days I comb through the whole house hoping to find those things in some drawer I’ve already opened countless times, or maybe at the bottom of a box in my closet. They’re somewhere, of course. Just like the jewels that were stolen from me. Remember that ring, the gold one, a little flashy, that I liked to wear in winter? It had green stones. I’d left it lying in plain sight when I was younger, when there was always so much to do in the course of any given day. Back then it tormented me, I couldn’t stand the fact of having lost that ring. But now I think, oh well. Someone else is probably wearing it, or maybe it’s for sale somewhere, in some far-off place, maybe the place you’re going to. It’s not mine anymore, but it’s still somewhere, that’s what I’m trying to say.”
― Jhumpa Lahiri, Whereabouts
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