Jhumpa Lahiri and the Rite of Diasporic Fiction
Jhumpa Lahiri and the Rite of Diasporic Fiction

In her latest novel, "Whereabouts," Lahiri writes her first fiction in Italian — about themes beyond the Indian immigrant experience.

Jhumpa Lahiri in Venice, Italy, 2014 (Photo by Venturelli/GC Images)

Jhumpa Lahiri in Venice, Italy, 2014 (Photo by Venturelli/GC Images)

“I wasn’t born here,” writer Jhumpa Lahiri once said of the United States, “but I may as well have been.” Born Nilanjana “Jhumpa” Lahiri to Bengali parents in London, who then moved to America, the writer and her work, widely and highly acclaimed, occupy a distinct spot in the bookshelf of diasporic fiction. She understands firsthand what it means to grow up with a dual identity: her characters want to change their names, feel quiet shame at the smell of their mother’s cooking, feel the weight of their parents’ expectations. More specifically, Lahiri often focuses on Bengali immigrants like her, many of whom immigrated from Calcutta to the U.S., bringing to life a community that was rarely seen in the West, particularly in popular culture. Though her first book, Interpreter of Maladies, was published over 20 years ago, Lahiri is arguably still the most synonymous name with Indian American immigrant fiction, a genre she helped define and elevate. 

But her latest novel — like her prior projects over the past several years — has no mention of India, the diasporic longing for it, or the desire to escape it. Whereabouts, Lahiri’s first fiction after nearly a decade, out on April 27, takes place in Italy, with a nameless narrator seekin

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