Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
3 of 5 stars
What is the point of writing this book? Life in modern world is at best empty and barren, the rampant virus has exacerbated that loneliness in the last couple of years. But with or without the virus, that is a common malady of this era, lonely people looking out for ‘crumbs of happiness’ from others. Nobody wants to invest in relationships or familial bonds but expect others to show kindness or even shower love on them. But is it a topic worthy of writing a book about? Perhaps, if author has a possible remedy or even hint of a cure… but Jhumpa Lahiri does not offer any of that in the book. The book is self translated in English by the author from Italian, in which it was originally written. I read the English translation so can’t even adjudge if Italian version is any better. The translated book is more like a diary of an Italian woman living alone, working in some academic field, seems a bit autobiographical. There is no storyline, just small chapters where the protagonist ruminates about her life and others she meets, a bit of voyeurism in it. Every book is an expression of reality that an author is purpose bound to spill out , but I’m not sure what is it for this one. Each chapter covers some random thoughts from the protagonist, there is an attempt to connect the storyline but reader is left bewildered on the point behind reviewing the life of a bored and lonely middle aged woman. The setting is an austere apartment in some remote Italian town and there are only a handful of characters in the book, all of whom happen to cross paths with the protagonist in her daily mundane life. That’s all there is in the book. Jhumpa’s earlier works were better but will give her a pass on this one as it looks more an experiment by the author on writing in Italian, a new language for a native English writer.