Whereabouts by JHumpa Lahiri

August 19, 2021

Readers may enjoy Whereabouts by JHumpa Lahiri which recommended by Katherine LaGrave, Deputy Editor of AFAR Travel Magazine and Guide (AFAR.com) recommends.

Whereabouts (Knopf, April 2021) is Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest novel which is about a single, unnamed middle-aged writer and professor in an unnamed Italian city who reflects on her broader place in the world.  Lahiri, who moved to Rome in 2012, initially wrote the novel in Italian and published it in 2018 under the title Dove mi trovo (“Where I find myself”) before she translated it into English.

LaGrave describes Whereabouts as a book that “holds a concert of contradictions and has no clean plot; instead, it’s feelings and emotions and scenes laid out as concentric circles, with truths emerging in the overlap. Through 46 chapters focused on specific locations (“At the Piazza,” “At the Beautician,” “By the Sea”) we learn about our narrator and find meaning in the mundanity. We feel her peace in solitude, but sometimes, her loneliness amid her aloneness. Perhaps most strongly, we see place as more than just a constant backdrop to our lives, but a character with its own rhythms and riddles.”

“Whereabouts is the slim, rare novel that manages to be both concentrated and lyrical at once. As I read it, I got the sense that every word was chosen carefully and deliberately. Even though I first finished reading the book in May, its idea of being alone—but not lonely—has stayed with me. And as many of us resume travel, Whereabouts is also a fitting meditation on the comforts of a place that’s always there. It reminds me, in a small way, that no matter where we ramble, there really is no place like home.”

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