Cover Image: Roman Stories

Roman Stories

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Member Reviews

While this title wouldn't work for my school library, Lahiri never disappoints. Her writing is beautiful and her stories are, often, realistic and heartbreaking.

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s newest collection of short stories, Roman Stories, makes the city itself a character as the stories capture the lives of residents that frequently feel caught in between two worlds. One of my favorite stories comes in the middle of the collection, The Steps. This story is broken into six parts, each focused on a different resident who lives and passes through neighborhood steps. I appreciated how Lahiri builds each character, capturing within the collection a wide array of residents in modern Rome. In doing so, she captures the tension, ugliness and beauty of this place. While I understand Lahiri’s artistic choice not to name any of her characters, there were a few stories where this choice was less effective, making characteristics stand in for names in a way that took away from my understanding of the characters. An interesting collection with several stories worthy of reading again. Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf for the eARC.

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This anthology of short stories, all set in or around the Eternal City, varies in length but shares a common ability to evoke emotions. Spanning the spectrum from hopefulness, lust, and longing to regret, betrayal, and death – the collection captures the full range of human experience. Notably, each tale depersonalizes its characters by avoiding names, instead referring to them as 'the woman,' 'the mourner,' or a capitalized letter that presumably signifies the beginning of a Christian name.

Many stories within the collection feature immigrants navigating life in the city. Typically engaged in low-paid jobs and grappling with the challenges of existence, these characters explore their conflicted feelings about their adopted home, grappling with the cultural values they encounter. The narratives adopt various perspectives, encompassing both male and female voices, young and old, as well as individuals stirred by thoughts of an affair or a couple mourning the loss of a young son.

As is often the case with such compilations, certain stories resonated more strongly with me than others. However, the consistently high quality of the writing, the insightful observations, and the stirring emotions make this collection stand out. Despite their seemingly quiet and tonally undramatic nature, these stories contain impactful events and emotions that resonate deeply.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Jhumpa Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and deservedly so, but I have to admit that the Roman Stories were a bit of a slog for me. I found them unnecessarily dark and bleak. Particularly with The Steps, I imagined other, more joyful stories that might have been written about young lovers, or old men and women remembering their own stories, or star crossed lovers lamenting or reencountering each other. Unfortunately, glass shard wielding thugs were not what I hoped for. I will continue to read Lahiri because she is a phenomenal writer and, who knows, perhaps rereading Roman Stories in the future, I might find it to be just the thing I was looking for.

I received a drc via NetGalley.

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Thank you to Jhumpa Lahiri, Knopf/Pantheon/Vintage, Anchor/Knopf, and Netgalley for this free advanced reader copy of "Roman Stories" for an honest review.

As someone who wrote their master's thesis on Jhumpa Lahiri's work, I always race out to get her newest piece, excited to hold it in my hands (whether that's a physical, audio, or digital copy), hug it to my chest, and dive into these incredibly detailed, realistic worlds and lives she paints in her pieces. This was no exception to her earlier works either, and oh my heart.

There are some intensely unwavering dives into the impacts and appearances of racism, both that we can easily spot and repercussions that have long-lasting effects usually not followed; the gorgeous magic of the mundane that she so often coaxes heartbreaking beauty from the most normal of times. I was also very moved by the deep dedication to the source material (writing in Italian and only then translating to English. I feel that choice brought a lot more authenticity to the pieces that were being related.

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While this collection for not capture me in the same manner as her other works, Jhumpa Lahiri remains one of my favorites and I will continue to read whatever she shared with us. Her writing is always shining, and it's the writing I remember from this one, and not exactly the stories themselves. The content may have been forgettable, but Lahiri's ability to provided a sense of time and space is admirable. Not my favorite book, but definitely a favorite author.

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3.5. In addition to her powerful observations about racism, Jhumpa Lahiri has a masterful way of coaxing beauty and awe out of mundane, slice-of-life moments; this collection is no exception, and the translations are done well throughout. I think I'm still chasing the high of Interpreter of Maladies, though, so this collection doesn't feel as consistent. Some of my favorites, though, are "The Boundary," "P's Parties," and "The Delivery."

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I Loved these stories, I thought the approach to write them in Italian and have them translated to English was great. Lahiri explores what it means to be from somewhere and living somewhere else. The stories were beautifully written.

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3.5 ⭐️. I enjoyed this book, overall, but found myself being disconnected from some of the stories.

Thank you to NetGalley, publisher and author for providing a free copy of this book.

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I'm sure this will be a fine book, as I have loved all the other books by Lahiri that I have read over the years. Unfortunately, I definitely will not have time to get to the story before the archive date happens, in which case I will not be able to give my feedback. That would negatively impact my response ratio, which is not good, as I already missed out on giving feedback on so many books because this year has been so absolutely busy and stressful that I have not had the time nor mental capacity to get to many of these books before they are gone forever! It is as upsetting for both sides. I apologize, but I will do better for the future! I am appreciative that I have been giving access to so many great new releases.

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Jhumpa Lahiri has lived in Italy for some time now and has made the decision to write only in Italian. Thus her new book, Roman Stories, a collection of tales set in Rome, are all translations, with all but three translated by the author herself. I mention this at the start because I wonder if this has had any impact on my reaction to these stories. My past experiences reading her books have been more easy and I entered into their world quickly.

My feelings here were quite mixed with four of the nine stories rated very good to excellent: Well-lit house, The Procession, Notes, and Dante Alighieri. All of the stories revolve around general themes of sadness, loneliness, other-ness and there are common threads of migration, travel, being separate or apart from society, especially Roman life. In the stories that I preferred, I felt the characters and their stories were developed more fully, that I could understand them on some level. Some of the others just didn’t excite or connect with me. Part II, The Steps, is a six part story, more a novella, set around public steps that various people pass through during their days/lives. The Two Brothers was my favorite here.

My rating 3.5* raised to 4* Those stories that I liked were very good.

Thank you to Alfred A. Knopf and NetGalley for a copy of this book. The review is my own.

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Lahiri is a master short story writer in the tradition of Alice Munro. I am always so excited when she publishes. Her ability to write place and
describe the universal is unique. Character development is a strong feature of the writing. Total worlds in economical prose equal perfection and a reading experience that comes only a couple times in a year. I liked the Procession and The Reentry best..stunning little gems. Not as popular as Ps Parties or the Steps
but simple and beautiful. I’ll be rereading some of the stories in the future to immerse myself in the writing and timeless storytelling.

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Jhumpa Lahiri is a masterful storyteller who has taught us much already about the intricacies of human relationships. In this new connection, she brings her keen observations, combined with her smooth literary abilities to tell us new tales, set in a deferent country but all of which still speak to our essential humanity. thank you Netgalley for providing this copy.

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✨ Review ✨ Roman Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri

In this series of short stories set in and around Rome, many of the stories spoke to me as a parent approaching mid-life dealing with anxieties about family and marriage, changing goals and aspirations, growing children, evolving friendships mid-life, etc. The stories are so richly grounded in the Roman / Italian landscape and in everyday interactions which I found really beautiful. Topics of race, immigration, and racial discrimination also come up regularly throughout.

A few of my favorites included:
1. “The Steps" where it rotates through a series of residents who live in and around The Steps, and as the characters progress, the story moves throughout the day. Over the course of a day, we see the life cycle and rotation of this place as different demographics come and go, passing these stairs throughout their daily routines (or aberations from their routine)

2. In "Notes" an older woman encounters racism in a temporary job in an elementary school where she helps during lunch. She's forced to grapple with this racism and returns to old habits.

3. In "The Reentry" two women meet again in Rome, after some time apart as their families no longer live near each other. As they're grappling with different things in life they find almost a reversal of order in the weird events that take place over lunch.

I enjoyed most of the stories though I found "The Delivery" and "Dante Alighieri" to be less engaging. Overall, I enjoyed this collection and read more that she writes!

Genre: short stories, contemporary fiction
Setting: Rome + Rural Italy
Pub Date: 10 Oct 2023

Read this if you like:
⭕️ Rome/Italy
⭕️ Migrant literature and themes of race and immigrant life
⭕️ FOOD & environment
⭕️ families, marriage, children throughout mid-life

Thanks to Knopf and #netgalley for the gifted advanced copies of this book!

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I have been a fan of Lahiri’s fiction, particularly her short fiction, for a long time, so I was excited to see a new collection of short stories from her.

These stories represent a new type of writing for her, in that they were originally written in Italian and translated into English by Lahiri and another translator, Todd Portnowitz. She began to explore this type of writing in her last short novel and this seems to be the direction that she will explore moving forward. Unlike her writing in English, the writing Italian, that’s been translated, is more abstracted and detached. But fans of Lahiri’s previous work will recognize the focus on outsiders and people living between two worlds

As the title suggests, each one of the endless collection takes place in and around Rome. Indeed, the city is often a main character in the story. This is particularly true in “The Steps,” the longest story. Each character’s story starts with a long series of steps in the city. The characters that climb these steps come from all walks of life and have a different relationship to their climb or descent. Their vignettes encapsulate much of what Lahiri is doing in this collection, particularly her focus on the ordinary people of the city. Also prevalent in this story and elsewhere in the collection are themes of immigration and integration and marriage (particularly infidelity in marriage).

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this collection. As with any short story collection, there were some stories that worked better for me than others. But overall I found it to be a strong work and I’m interested to see the direction Lahiri goes.

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I am in constant awe of how Lahiri's prowess with the short story continues to shine, book after book. You can tell she's found her footing in Italian, because as her vocabulary expands, her trademark voice comes through beautifully. It was a joy to read through these stories. P's Parties and Dante Alighieri were particular standouts.

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While I often claim not to enjoy or "get" short stories as a format, I have always loved the short stories of Jhumpa Lahiri. And when I learned that the topic was live in Italy, and Rome specifically, I was even more excited to read this book.

She does not disappoint. What I think she does best is to impart a sense of place and humanity into her brief glimpses of life with these stories. The cultural cues of the city, like the experience of walking into a very intimate family restaurant with a new widow, are so vivid and touching. The relationships to people and place are at the core of her work, and it shines in this collection. I loved it.

I would like to thank the publisher for giving me access to the digital arc in exchange for a fair review.

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I enjoyed the writing and the many interesting characters. I felt the earlier stories were stronger but by the end of the book I was feeling less invested. The strong sense of place throughout the stories was my favorite part of reading this book. I would recommend that if you enjoy short stories to give this one a try.

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Roman Stories is Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest collection of short stories. Different than her previous collections, this one was written entirely in Italian (a second learned language) and then translated to English. The stories take place mainly around Rome and center on the immigrant experience and the feelings of displacement and belonging. I liked a majority of the stories, but felt they lacked the spark or vibrancy that I experienced with her previous collections. This could very well be because they were translated or maybe it was just me. All in all, I enjoyed the stories and look forward to her next collection. Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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- ROMAN STORIES is a collection of stories set in Rome, written originally in Italian by Lahiri and then translated to English with her editor.
- These stories are all about the atmosphere. They're beautiful, but a veil of sadness hangs over them all. In these stories, Rome is home and a foreign place for the protagonists, who are expats, immigrants, and other outsiders.

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