Pulitzer Prize Winner Jhumpa Lahiri spoke at the Italian Cultural Institute about language, identity, and belonging in relation to a new collection of Italian Short Stories which she has edited. As translated fiction sales are up by 5.5% in the UK this year, I’m musing upon what translated fiction adds to one’s literary diet.
I first encountered Jhumpa Lahiri’s works in the last year of my undergraduate degree, when I was studying a module about ‘postcolonial literature’ (the tutors of which quickly dissected the chosen term, as all good English Lit tutors do), and I immediately fell in love with her writing. I was enthralled by Lahiri’s prose and how naturally it slips into questions of identity, migration, and belonging – themes which greatly preoccupy me. I was therefore incredibly excited when I found that she was coming to London (all the way from Princeton) and speaking at the Italian Cultural Institute about a new collection, The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories, which she has edited (and translated).
During the week of International Women’s Day, I took a trip to Shoreditch to visit Penguin’s ‘Like a Woman’ pop-up bookshop, which was stocked with women authors to celebrate #IWD2018.
Whilst perusing the beautifully curated bookshelves, I came across a true gem, Loop of Jade (2015) by Sarah Howe. I’ve been reading a lot of novels recently, and I was in need of a poetry-fix, so this wonderful collection really caught my eye. As a winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2015, I knew that I was in for a treat. Added to that, all of my favourite things were mentioned on the blurb: ‘an enthralling exploration of self and place, migration and inheritance’. It did not disappoint, and I’ll take you through some of my favourite moments in the collection here.
Happy International Women’s Day! Women and people of all genders in the world, let’s keep fighting the good fight for feminism, anti-racism, LGTBQ+ rights, and all things intersectional and good. I’ll keep it brief and refer you onto a short #girlpower list which I’ve written, featuring a few of my favourite artist-slash-activists to follow on Instagram (in no particular order!). Let me know whom else I should follow!
1. Naomi Shimada (model/storyteller)
Firstly, we share the same name – which obviously means that I love her. Secondly, Naomi often speaks about really important social issues like body image/sizeism in both the UK and Japan. As a self-identified storyteller, she clearly has a zest for life and expresses this by tossing all of the Insta rules out of the window (expect nine posts per day when she’s travelling and up to fun adventures). Her fashion style and Insta feed are brighter than Blue Ivy Carter’s future and she certainly brings sunshine to my day, which is why I love following her.