In Other Words is the most evocative, unpretentious, astute account of a writing life I have read. In part, this is because Lahiri so unabashedly asks and answers big and vexing questions: 'Why do I write? To investigate the mystery of existence. To tolerate myself. To get closer to everything that is outside of me.'
It’s a bit surreal reading the Italian autobiography of an American author translated by someone else’s hand on the facing page. But the bilingual format is appropriate: All the personal experiences are connected to linguistic ones, all the linguistic issues refracted through the author’s life.
“In Other Words is, sadly, a less ecstatic experience for you and me. It’s a soft, repetitive, self-dramatic and self-hobbled book, packed with watercolor observations like: 'There is pain in every joy. In every violent passion a dark side.' That someone gets a lot out of writing something does not necessarily mean anyone else will get a similar amount from reading that thing.