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Roman Stories

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I would highly recommend this beautiful ROMAN STORIES by Jhumpa Lahiri. These stories are magnificent and wonderfully immersive. With Rome as a silent character that remains in the background, the author manages to make every racconto vivid and engaging and every character relatable. Rome feels so alive and majestic, and at the same time full of ghostly memories.

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Jhumpa Lahiri doesn't disappoint in this collection of short stories. I found there was a theme of longing and loneliness in several of the stories. Her vivid descriptions of the mental state of her characters made them believable and had me rooting for them. I recommend!

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i have read another book by jhumpa lahiri in her post-italian-writing-declaration years and enjoyed it, but this one felt shallow and hard to get into. the best parts of it were those in which lahiri explored the feeling of being an immmigrant or outsider in rome, but eventually even those fell into the same predictable pattern of recycled material and telling, not showing. i love lahiri but this one was a letdown!

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This slim volume of stories, which Lahiri wrote in Italian and then translated along with Todd Portnowitz, has a very similar feel to her last novella, <I>Whereabouts</I>. Melancholy, with Lahiri's usual lyrical writing, these stories are meant to feature the city of Rome as the main character, which is in part accomplished by not using any names, referring to the human characters by their role, job, or an initial. This was the same in <I>Whereabouts</I>, but in this case it didn't work as well for me. Instead, it felt kind of gimmicky, and I still didn't get as much of a sense of Rome itself being the character. Much of the focus is on the current experience of immigrants in Rome, a depressing situation that needs and deserves a voice, but left me not really wanting to pick up the book each time I put it down. Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for a digital review copy.

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Arguably one of the 21st centuries most renowned short story writers returns in new form in a collection originally written in Italian, and self-translated along with Todd Portnowitz into English.

Jhumpa Lahiri's career evolution due to her study of Italian has been intriguing, to say the least. While these stories absolutely shows the mastery of her skills in crafting short, powerful narratives, this isn't a collection I'd recommend simply because someone was a fan of Lahiri with the past. With a new primary language she's writing in, Lahiri has seemed to tap into a new voice and tone, a new style. It was first seen in the short novel, Whereabouts, which unfortunately didn't work for me. However, I've never been much of a fan of her longer works, preferring her ability to say more with less in her short stories.

In this collection, due out in a few weeks, she's in fine form. The stories are rarely specific—characters names are reduced to their first letter, places are seldom named properly and instead referred to in the general ("the piazza" "the steps" etc). And yet the feelings, the emotions are so focused.

She seems to be especially focused on marriages (and infidelity), otherness through both immigrants in Rome/Italy as well as individuals as separate from a larger community they feel urged to integrate into, and grief.

Standout stories for me were 'P's Parties,' 'The Steps,' and 'Dante Alighieri'

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I thought I had reviewed this, so sorry for the delay.

I had previously enjoyed reading The Namesake, and wanted to read some of her short stories. These are all centered in Rome (city and countryside). I particularly enjoyed The Steps and Dante Alighieri in this collection. Xenophobia is a theme in many of the stories.

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In some ways, Roman Stories is a return to form for Jhumpa Lahiri. She blazed onto the scene by winning a Pulitzer Prize for her debut, a story collection called Interpreter of Maladies (a book I named as one of the best of the last 25 years). Roman Stories is Lahiri's first foray back to the short story form since 2008's Unaccustomed Earth. For people who love both Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth, this new book is a slam dunk. It has everything you love about a collection of Lahiri's short stories: elegant, precise prose; sharp observation; a keen eye for detail; and effortless storytelling.

But Jhumpa Lahiri is an author who never quite does the same thing twice, so even as Roman Stories in some ways represents a return to form, it also represents the next phase in her evolution as a writer. It's a fascinating, exciting process that has made her an author I follow eagerly.

Lahiri's previous novel, Whereabouts, was a huge departure for her. Not only was it Lahiri's first fictional work written in Italian and then translated into English, it was a big stylistic departure that, in my opinion, paid off big time.

Roman Stories was also written in Italian and translated into English (this time with the help of Todd Portnowitz), but this time around Lahiri's fiction feels like an outgrowth of her own experiences living in the titular city in a truly fascinating way. Each story in this collection features a protagonist who is unsettled in some way, building a sense of unease that develops as the pages progress. The unsettled feeling could come from a sense of dislocation (being in a place other than where you are originally from), from a threat of violence, or, most often, from racist provocations that threaten to tip into violence.

These stories are a complex love letter to Italy and its capital, embracing all of the city's beauty and vibrance as well as its quirks, eccentricities, and the stubborn traditionalism of its residents. The stories also play with form in interesting ways, often fracturing the narrative or the perspective to zoom in and out and give the reader a wider sense of scope. It is tricky work that feels simple and elegant because while you are reading it, you are in the hands of a master storyteller.

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As a writer of fiction set in Italy, and a longtime learner of the Italian language, I have long admired how Lahiri has shaped her writing career around a love for il bel paese. I have been reading this book in both Italian and in English and have found the experience to be doubly enriching--pun intended.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s new collection Roman Stories is an exquisite achievement that further solidifies her reputation as a master of the short story form. Written originally in Italian and translated brilliantly into English, these nine tales immerse the reader in the rhythms and textures of Rome.

While the eternal city looms large as the backdrop, the true focus is on the characters' inner lives - many of them outsiders or exiles navigating the enigmatic codes of a foreign culture. With her signature elegance, Lahiri explores profound themes of grief, isolation, prejudice, and the fragile bonds of family and romance.

The range of human experience captured is impressive. In stories like "The Boundary," Lahiri peers into the psychology of a caretaker's daughter harboring resentment over her immigrant parents' sacrifices. "P's Parties" examines the unspoken tensions simmering beneath an expatriate couple's superficial contentment. And "The Steps" provides a panoramic view of Roman social dynamics through the lens of a public staircase. Each story, in my mind, is a gem unto itself.

Throughout, Lahiri maintains a remarkable emotional intimacy with her characters while allowing ambiguities and complexities to reverberate. I found myself rereading passages to unpack the nuances. The impact lingers long after the final page.

Roman Stories is a must-read for any lover of lyrical, psychologically insightful fiction. I was transported by Lahiri's prose and gained new insight into the human condition. This collection cements her reputation as one of the treasures of contemporary literature.

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Jhumpa Lahiri is back with Roman Stories, another collection of short stories and while I didn’t find this collection as strong as her earlier ones, it still often showcases her skill at writing beautiful sentences and crafting stories out of quiet, mundane moments.

As one might expect from the title, the stories are all set in Rome. The characters though, most of the main ones at least, are not themselves from Rome but instead are a mix of ex-pats and migrants, making this a collection focused mostly on outsiders. As such, it’s also a collection focused on isolation, separation, and alienation. Why the characters feel these things varies from story to story. Sometimes it is grief that lies behind it, as we have one story set at the funeral of the main character’s mother, and another story where a young couple finds it impossible to move beyond the loss of a child.

The stories are replete with widows and parents of dead children, but it isn’t only death that leads to a sense of loss. More than once a character bemoans the simple inevitability of time’s distancing effect as children grow not just up but away, often in these stories far, far away. If children aren’t dying or growing up and moving away, the parents themselves are moving, with a host of divorces, first spouses, second spouses, and so on. Relationships in these lives rarely last.

Beyond death and divorce and loss, the other depressing cause of isolation through most of these stories is bigotry, racism, and xenophobia. The range of ugliness spans a spectrum from microaggressions to overt speech (written and verbal) to physical violence. In two of the most heart-breaking and infuriating stories, an immigrant family is driven from their home with the wife and children going back to their home country and the father wandering homeless, and a dark-skinned woman is tormented by the schoolchildren she is supposed to be monitoring while the adults at the school dismiss it all.

While the themes/topics are often poignant, saddening, and, as noted, infuriating, and while Lahiri offers up a number of painfully poignant moments, some quite moving, in general there was a strange sense of emotional distance for me in relation to the stories. Part of it was the convention of not naming the characters, which I’d say is meant to highlight both the sense of alienation and the universality of these experiences. Part of it was the vignette mode of many of the stories. Part of it was the stylistic voicing. All of this meant that while I admired the writing, the stories landed with somewhat less impact than those in her earlier collections. That said, as noted earlier, Lahiri can write some gorgeous sentences, and if sometimes the lyrical endings felt a bit unearned, the writing at the close of many of these lingers for some time afterward.


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In articulate and beautiful prose, Lahiri’s stories capture what it means to be an outsider in Rome and the loneliness of living in a large city, especially when being an ex-pat.
I thought that these stories on their own stood strong, but I wished as a collection we had more time with each story to delve even a little deeper.
All in all I really thought this was a beautiful and strong collection that had strong themes while not being heavy handed and there were definitely stories in this collection that will stick in my brain for a while.

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Jhumpa Lahiri is a true artist - her descriptions of the intricacies of human emotion are deeply powerful and full of insight into the character she's embodied. Regardless of whether you have the same background, gender or personality, she has a way of describing the nuance of living and experiencing what it feels like to be another, and to have that person's unique set of intellectual and emotional attributes and personality. As a result, you're transported, much as you may have been while reading one of her novels, like The Namesake.

A unique pleasure to read.

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What a gorgeous collection. Everything shimmers under Jhumpa Lahiri's perceptive gaze, and Roman Stories is no exception. This collection explores multi-faceted characters living in and around Rome, who are all too often deemed one dimensional by their neighbors and counterparts. There's sadness here, and melancholy, yet ultimately the human spirit shines through, and we're all changed, characters and readers, in the process. Thank you #NetGalley for allowing me to read a preview of this beautiful book.

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First and foremost, I am very grateful to NetGalley and Knopf for the eARC I received of 'Roman Stories.' Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favorite modern authors, and this book did not change that! Each one of the stories in this collection is as beautifully written and carefully crafted as I would expect from her. On top of that, the translation from Italian to English conveys the themes beautifully. Each story feels as though the city of Rome is the main character of the collection, the people moving through it just pieces of it's long stories.

"Every time I come back here I feel rejuvenated - and also like a kind of ghost, picking up its former life in fits and starts."

The quote above captures the feeling of many of the stories, as they often feel told by ghosts that have found themselves lost and wandering in an ancient city. While this is used to great effect in creating an almost dreamlike atmosphere, at times it does make it difficult to feel fully immersed within each story. On top of this, the lack of names for the characters and generally vague background details can make it difficult to relate, more difficult than some of Lahiri's work in the past. That is the largest criticism I have of this collection, though. Lahiri continues to be a masterful writer in multiple languages and I would still highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in her work.

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I have read a few of this author's books and have really enjoyed them in the past. The stories in this book were very well written and atmospheric. I liked the focus was not only Rome as a location, but really drew out so much more. There were common themes throughout that were similar in some ways, however are just so central to human existence. I am simply amazed by this author and what she creates. Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.

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"𝘊𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘳, 𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘸𝘦'𝘷𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘣𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘳 𝘧𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘮𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘯 𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘺-𝘵𝘰-𝘥𝘢𝘺. 𝘖𝘶𝘳 𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘵𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘢 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘦𝘯𝘥. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘦𝘵 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺, 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦, 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨."

Here, Lahiri centers stories in Rome surrounding themes of the outsider, loneliness, xenophobia, and what it means to try and be alive and well in a place so full of change that its people are too hard-headed to change with it.

Some hit, some miss. Some stronger than others, and some that mull too far in their liminality that the ends don't justify their means. And this issue shrouds most of the stories. Lahiri is after uncovering something, but not yet bringing full feelings to the surface. In the micro-aggressions explored, we beat around bushes, wondering when we will hit the center of everything, but then Lahiri stops us short, edging us to bystander effect, leaving us dry and empty and lonely. Though this works for some of the stories, when collected together, I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do. And maybe that's the effect of it all. But it just feels that Lahiri is not honest enough or is laboring towards a white audience with these uncertain feelings.

There's only one story, 𝘕𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘴, where I feel we see how micro-aggressions gravely affect an individual in a habit in which our narrator, when faced with traumatic experiences, results to a bad childhood habit of eating bits of paper. It comes around full circle, allowing us as readers to realize the devastating effects in which micro-aggressions create so much harm.

What I will say is that Lahiri perfectly captures the very loneliness of the expat experience. Her emotional distance works best when covering the front of this theme. But when it comes to the core experience of being othered, not enough emotional input is in place to move us anywhere. Again, if any of these pieces stood alone, they would work for a magazine or an anthology. But as a collection, it is meek and rather far from its aim.

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This collection of short stories covers a wide range of topics with the eloquence and labor of a dedicated author.

Particularly poignant were the stories about the man at the house party and the old woman in the apartment building.

This examination of the human condition and all its forms is a worthwhile read if you’re interested in short stories.

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I absolutely love Lahiri and this collection of short stories is just as powerful as her other work. I loved it. I’m only complaint was that it was too short!

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So impressive that Lahiri has learned a new langauge and still manages to write so beautifully in it. Not something I can imagine doing. A beautiful set of stories written in her adopted language. I'm more of a novel person myself, but I can appreciate a short story when written by a master.

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Lahiri is so brilliant and fascinating. Roman Stories transports you to Rome, but a more complex and layered Rome than most Americans know.

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I love Jhumpa Lahiri, and was especially excited for Roman Stories for how interesting her self translation is and the gorgeous cover. There were a few stories that lived up to my excitement (The Steps and A Well-Lit House) and theses were mostly where she delved into immigrant stories and class relations. It was jarring to flip between stories like this and the others that were mostly marital dramas of the wealthy.

One thing that bothered me throughout the entire work was the persistent vagueness and unnamedness of people and places. This was especially clear in The Steps -- it's exhausting when characters are only known by epithets or initials, or places only by their environmental features. It has less of an effect of the stories being universal and more they they feel impenetrable, like there is always something between the reader and fully being able to inhabit the story.

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