by Jhumpa Lahiri
translated from the Italian by the author
from the February 15 & 22, 2021 issue of The New Yorker
Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies (which I loved), and continued to establish herself as a critically acclaimed author. In 2011, she moved to Rome and started to not only translate from the Italian but also to writer her own fiction in Italian. Indeed, she published her first novel in Italian, Dove mi trovo, in 2018. Whereabouts, the English translation of that novel — her own translation — is coming to us in April. “Casting Shadows” is an excerpt.
My favorite thing I’ve ever read by Lahiri remains the first thing I ever read from Lahiri: the first story in Interpreter of Maladies, “A Temporary Matter.” I haven’t read everything she’s written since, but I still consider myself a fan and get excited whenever something new arrives. I think her efforts to push boundaries and definitions is important and well done. That said, I am still always drawn in by her writing, which pulls me in with seeming simplicity that explores great depths. Here is how “Casting Shadows” starts:
Now and then on the streets of my neighborhood I bump into a man I might have been involved with, maybe shared a life with. He always looks happy to see me. He lives with a friend of mine, and they have two children. Our relationship never goes beyond a longish chat on the sidewalks, a quick coffee together, perhaps a brief stroll in the same direction. He talks excitedly about his projects, he gesticulates, and at times as we’re walking our synchronized bodies, already quite close, discreetly overlap.
There is so much going on there that I want the story to unpack. I hope that this excerpt satisfies at the same time it points us forward to Lahiri’s novel.
Let me know your thoughts below!