Download high-resolution image Look inside
Listen to a clip from the audiobook
audio pause button
0:00
0:00

Whereabouts

Look inside
Listen to a clip from the audiobook
audio pause button
0:00
0:00
Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. In the arc of one year, an unnamed narrator in an unnamed city, in the middle of her life’s journey, realizes that she’s lost her way. The city she calls home acts as a companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house, and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores, and coffee bars, she feels less alone.

We follow her to the pool she frequents, and to the train station that leads to her mother, who is mired in her own solitude after her husband’s untimely death. Among those who appear on this woman’s path are colleagues with whom she feels ill at ease, casual acquaintances, and “him,” a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. Until one day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun’s vital heat, her perspective will abruptly change.
 
This is the first novel Lahiri has written in Italian and translated into English. The reader will find the qualities that make Lahiri’s work so beloved: deep intelligence and feeling, richly textured physical and emotional landscapes, and a poetics of dislocation. But Whereabouts, brimming with the impulse to cross barriers, also signals a bold shift of style and sensibility. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.
 
“A quietly bracing work of fiction . . . This is arguably Lahiri’s most beautifully written novel.” —Jennifer Wilson, The Nation

“A gorgeous, contemplative read . . . Poetic prose that invites you to linger over the words.” —Real Simple, “Best Books of 2021 (so far)”

Whereabouts is rendered in short, journal-like fragments so strongly and rightly voiced that other books sound wrong when you turn to them.” —Claire Dederer, The Atlantic

Lahiri writes with subtlety and delicacy.” —Heller McAlpin, NPR

“Another masterstroke in a career already filled with them.” —O, the Oprah Magazine

Whereabouts signals a new mode for Lahiri, and a daring transformation. . . . It feels true and wise to the core.” —Anderson Tepper, Los Angeles Times

“Hypnotic . . . a book [whose] peculiar magnetism lies in its clash of candour and coyness.” —Anthony Cummins, The Guardian

“Skillful. . . . Lahiri’s sentences are honed to minimalist beauty. A loose narrative emerges of an Italian woman at a crossroads in her life. . . . The chapters detail encounters, but other humans are like passing shadows. The pain of the narrator’s isolation feels extremely real.” —Madeleine Thien, The New York Times Book Review

“Lahiri’s prose shimmers with precise detail. Whether it’s an American-born son misunderstanding his Bengali father’s wishes in The Namesake or an Indian guide seeing dangers that American tourists cannot in Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri has demonstrated that she is a master of cultural collisions. Whereabouts returns to her ever-present theme, now in an Italian setting, of the terrors and joys wrought by bridging worlds.” —L.A. Taggart, San Francisco Chronicle

“Fresh, unique. . . . Lahiri [has] stretched the form of the novel. Wandering through an anonymous life, seeing things through one person’s eyes, is enjoyable. . . . At one point the narrator becomes as voyeuristic as her readers, following a stranger on the street and asking herself, ‘What’s her face like? Has she always lived here, like me?’ Each chapter floats by quickly, [with] sparse and lyrical prose.” —Rob Merrill, Associated Press
 
“Some books leave you with a feeling for which there are no words, or at least no words in English that you know of. Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts is one of those books. The feeling closest to what is evoked by this beautifully crafted novel is a stroll during the blue hour on the first warm evening of spring. A jewel of a book.” —Arlene McKanic, BookPage
  
“Elegant. . . . Lyrical. . . . Beautiful.” —Michael Magras, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A meditative and aching snapshot of a life in suspension. . . . Lahiri’s poetic flourishes and spare, conversational prose are on full display. This beautifully written portrait of a life in passage captures the hopes, frustrations, and longings of solitude and remembrance.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Painterly. . . . Exquisitely detailed. . . . [Lahiri’s] language seems to have been sieved through a fine mesh, each word a gleaming gemstone. Such expressive refinement perfectly embodies Lahiri’s narrator, who lives alone in an unnamed Italian city [and] examines her life in first-person vignettes. . . . There is melancholy here, but these concentrated, poignant, and rueful episodes also pulse with the narrator’s devotion to observation and her pushing through depression to live on her terms. She exalts in her lively neighborhood, in the country beneath skies as moody as she is, and by the tempestuous sea, all while recording her stealthy battle against her tendency to burrow into her shell. An incisive and captivating evocation of the nature and nexus of place and self.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Elegant, subtle, and sad. . . . Its spare, reflective prose and profound interiority recall the work of Rachel Cusk and Sigrid Nunez.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Subtle and stirring. . . . A fascinating departure in cadence and form for Lahiri. Whereabouts [is written with] the sort of deft hand so few can properly wield: it evokes the sort of slow thrum of despair and loneliness so few can manage well. But Lahiri is no ordinary writer. There’s a calming sense of comfort one finds in the solitude experienced by our main character, largely due to the exactness of Lahiri’s writing. Poetic as she is and always has been, seemingly innocuous turns of phrase cut to the core, while descriptions of light and darkness take you aback and make you swoon. Elegantly observed and often beautifully sad. . . . Whereabouts will stay with you longer than you anticipate.” —Alicia Lutes, USA Today
© Laura Sciacovelli
JHUMPA LAHIRI, a bilingual writer and translator, is the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Barnard College, Columbia University. She received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for Interpreter of Maladies and is also the author of The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland. Since 2015, Lahiri has been writing fiction, essays, and poetry in Italian: In Altre Parole (In Other Words), Il Vestito dei libri (The Clothing of Books), Dove mi trovo (self-translated as Whereabouts), Il quaderno di Nerina, and Racconti romani. She received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2014, and in 2019 was named Commendatore of the Italian Republic by President Sergio Mattarella. Her most recent book in English, Translating Myself and Others, was a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. 

jhumpalahiri.net View titles by Jhumpa Lahiri

On the Sidewalk

In the mornings after breakfast I walk past a small marble plaque propped against the high wall flanking the road. I never knew the man who died. But over the years I’ve come to know his name, his surname. I know the month and day he was born and the month and day his life ended. This was a man who died two days after his birthday, in February.

It must have been an accident on his bike or his motorcycle. Or maybe he was walking at night, distracted. Maybe he was hit by a passing car.

He was forty-­four when it happened. I suppose he died in this very spot, on the sidewalk, next to the wall that sprouts neglected plants, which is why the plaque has been arranged at the bottom, at the feet of passersby. The road is full of curves and snakes uphill. It’s a bit dangerous. The sidewalk is vexing, crowded with exposed tree roots. Some sections are nearly impossible to negotiate because of the roots. That’s why I, too, tend to walk on the road.

There’s usually a candle burning in a container of red glass, along with a small bunch of flowers and the statue of a saint. There’s no photograph of him. Above the candle, attached to the wall, there’s a note from his mother, written by hand, encased in a milky plastic sleeve. It greets those who stop for a moment to ponder the death of her son. I would like to personally thank those who dedicate a few minutes of their time to my son’s memory, but if that’s not possible, I thank you anyway, from the bottom of my heart, it says.

I’ve never seen the mother or any other person in front of the plaque. Thinking of the mother just as much as the son, I keep walking, feeling slightly less alive.

 

On the Street

Now and then on the streets of my neighborhood I bump into a man I might have been involved with, maybe shared a life with. He always looks happy to see me. He lives with a friend of mine, and they have two children. Our relationship never goes beyond a longish chat on the sidewalk, a quick coffee together, perhaps a brief stroll in the same direction. He talks excitedly about his projects, he gesticulates, and now and then as we’re walking our synchronized bodies, already quite close, discreetly overlap.

One time he accompanied me into a lingerie shop because I had to choose a pair of tights to wear under a new skirt. I’d just bought the skirt and I needed the tights for that same evening. Our fingers grazed the textures splayed out on the counter as we sorted through the various colors. The binder of samples was like a book full of flimsy transparent pages. He was totally calm among the bras, the nightgowns, as if he were in a hardware store and not surrounded by intimate apparel. I was torn between the green and the purple. He was the one who convinced me to choose the purple, and the saleslady, putting the tights into the bag, said: Your husband’s got a great eye.

Pleasant encounters like this break up our daily meanderings. We have a chaste, fleeting bond. As a result it can’t advance, it can’t take the upper hand. He’s a good man, he loves my friend and their children.

I’m content with a firm embrace even though I don’t share my life with anyone. Two kisses on the cheeks, a short walk along a stretch of road. Without saying a word to each other we know that, if we chose to, we could venture into something reckless, also pointless.

This morning he’s distracted. He doesn’t recognize me until I’m right in front of him. He’s crossing a bridge at one end and I’m arriving from the other. We stop in the middle and look at the wall that flanks the river, and the shadows of pedestrians cast on its surface. They look like skittish ghosts advancing in a row, obedient souls passing from one realm to another. The bridge is flat and yet it looks as if the figures—­vaporous shapes against the solid wall—­are walking uphill, always climbing. They’re like inmates who proceed, silently, toward a dreadful end.

“It would be great, one day, to film this procession,” he says. “You can’t always see it, it depends on the position of the sun. But I’m always amazed, there’s something hypnotizing about it. Even when I’m in a hurry, I stop to watch.”

“So do I.”

He pulls out his cell phone. “Should we try?”

“How does it look?” I ask.

“No good. This contraption can’t capture them.”

We continue to watch the mute spectacle, the dark bodies that advance, never stopping.

“Where are you headed?”

“Work.”

“Me too.”

“Should we have a coffee?”

“I don’t have time today.”

“Okay, ciao, see you soon.”

We say goodbye, separate. Then we, too, become two shadows projected onto the wall: a routine spectacle, impossible to capture.

A Most Anticipated Novel of the Year from: Buzzfeed O, The Oprah Magazine TIME Vulture Vogue LitHub Harper's Bazaar

“A quietly bracing work of fiction . . . This is arguably Lahiri’s most beautifully written novel.”
—Jennifer Wilson, The Nation

“A gorgeous, contemplative read . . . Poetic prose that invites you to linger over the words.”
—Real Simple, “Best Books of 2021 (so far)”


Whereabouts is rendered in short, journal-like fragments so strongly and rightly voiced that other books sound wrong when you turn to them."
—Claire Dederer, The Atlantic

Lahiri writes with subtlety and delicacy.”
—Heller McAlpin, NPR

“Another masterstroke in a career already filled with them.”
—O, the Oprah Magazine


“Whereabouts signals a new mode for Lahiri, and a daring transformation . . . It feels true and wise to the core.”
—Anderson Tepper, Los Angeles Times

“Subtle and stirring . . . A fascinating departure in cadence and form for Lahiri. Whereabouts [is written with] the sort of deft hand so few can properly wield: it evokes the sort of slow thrum of despair and loneliness so few can manage well. But Lahiri is no ordinary writer. There’s a calming sense of comfort one finds in the solitude experienced by our main character, largely due to the exactness of Lahiri’s writing. Poetic as she is and always has been, seemingly innocuous turns of phrase cut to the core, while descriptions of light and darkness take you aback and make you swoon. Elegantly observed and often beautifully sad . . . Whereabouts will stay with you longer than you anticipate.”
—Alicia Lutes, USA Today

“Hypnotic…a book [whose] peculiar magnetism lies in its clash of candour and coyness.”
—Anthony Cummins, The Guardian

“Skillful… Lahiri's sentences are honed to minimalist beauty. A loose narrative emerges of an Italian woman at a crossroads in her life . . . The chapters detail encounters, but other humans are like passing shadows. The pain of the narrator’s isolation feels extremely real.”
—Madeleine Thien, The New York Times Book Review

“Lahiri’s prose shimmers with precise detail. Whether it’s an American-born son misunderstanding his Bengali father’s wishes in The Namesake or an Indian guide seeing dangers that American tourists cannot in Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri has demonstrated that she is a master of cultural collisions. Whereabouts returns to her ever-present theme, now in an Italian setting, of the terrors and joys wrought by bridging worlds.”
—L.A. Taggart, San Francisco Chronicle

“Fresh, unique . . . Lahiri [has] stretched the form of the novel. Wandering through an anonymous life, seeing things through one person’s eyes, is enjoyable . . . At one point the narrator becomes as voyeuristic as her readers, following a stranger on the street and asking herself, ‘What’s her face like? Has she always lived here, like me?’ Each chapter floats by quickly, [with] sparse and lyrical prose.”
—Rob Merrill, Associated Press
 
“Some books leave you with a feeling for which there are no words, or at least no words in English that you know of. Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts is one of those books. The feeling closest to what is evoked by this beautifully crafted novel is a stroll during the blue hour on the first warm evening of spring. A jewel of a book.”
—Arlene McKanic, BookPage
  
“Elegant . . . Lyrical . . . Beautiful.”
—Michael Magras, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A meditative and aching snapshot of a life in suspension... Lahiri’s poetic flourishes and spare, conversational prose are on full display. This beautifully written portrait of a life in passage captures the hopes, frustrations, and longings of solitude and remembrance."
—Publishers Weekly [starred review]

“Painterly… exquisitely detailed… [Lahiri’s] language seems to have been sieved through a fine mesh, each word a gleaming gemstone. Such expressive refinement perfectly embodies Lahiri’s narrator, who lives alone in an unnamed Italian city [and] examines her life in first-person vignettes… There is melancholy here, but these concentrated, poignant, and rueful episodes also pulse with the narrator's devotion to observation and her pushing through depression to live on her terms. She exalts in her lively neighborhood, in the country beneath skies as moody as she is, and by the tempestuous sea, all while recording her stealthy battle against her tendency to burrow into her shell. An incisive and captivating evocation of the nature and nexus of place and self.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist

"Elegant, subtle, and sad... Its spare, reflective prose and profound interiority recall the work of Rachel Cusk and Sigrid Nunez."
Kirkus

About

Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. In the arc of one year, an unnamed narrator in an unnamed city, in the middle of her life’s journey, realizes that she’s lost her way. The city she calls home acts as a companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house, and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores, and coffee bars, she feels less alone.

We follow her to the pool she frequents, and to the train station that leads to her mother, who is mired in her own solitude after her husband’s untimely death. Among those who appear on this woman’s path are colleagues with whom she feels ill at ease, casual acquaintances, and “him,” a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. Until one day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun’s vital heat, her perspective will abruptly change.
 
This is the first novel Lahiri has written in Italian and translated into English. The reader will find the qualities that make Lahiri’s work so beloved: deep intelligence and feeling, richly textured physical and emotional landscapes, and a poetics of dislocation. But Whereabouts, brimming with the impulse to cross barriers, also signals a bold shift of style and sensibility. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.
 
“A quietly bracing work of fiction . . . This is arguably Lahiri’s most beautifully written novel.” —Jennifer Wilson, The Nation

“A gorgeous, contemplative read . . . Poetic prose that invites you to linger over the words.” —Real Simple, “Best Books of 2021 (so far)”

Whereabouts is rendered in short, journal-like fragments so strongly and rightly voiced that other books sound wrong when you turn to them.” —Claire Dederer, The Atlantic

Lahiri writes with subtlety and delicacy.” —Heller McAlpin, NPR

“Another masterstroke in a career already filled with them.” —O, the Oprah Magazine

Whereabouts signals a new mode for Lahiri, and a daring transformation. . . . It feels true and wise to the core.” —Anderson Tepper, Los Angeles Times

“Hypnotic . . . a book [whose] peculiar magnetism lies in its clash of candour and coyness.” —Anthony Cummins, The Guardian

“Skillful. . . . Lahiri’s sentences are honed to minimalist beauty. A loose narrative emerges of an Italian woman at a crossroads in her life. . . . The chapters detail encounters, but other humans are like passing shadows. The pain of the narrator’s isolation feels extremely real.” —Madeleine Thien, The New York Times Book Review

“Lahiri’s prose shimmers with precise detail. Whether it’s an American-born son misunderstanding his Bengali father’s wishes in The Namesake or an Indian guide seeing dangers that American tourists cannot in Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri has demonstrated that she is a master of cultural collisions. Whereabouts returns to her ever-present theme, now in an Italian setting, of the terrors and joys wrought by bridging worlds.” —L.A. Taggart, San Francisco Chronicle

“Fresh, unique. . . . Lahiri [has] stretched the form of the novel. Wandering through an anonymous life, seeing things through one person’s eyes, is enjoyable. . . . At one point the narrator becomes as voyeuristic as her readers, following a stranger on the street and asking herself, ‘What’s her face like? Has she always lived here, like me?’ Each chapter floats by quickly, [with] sparse and lyrical prose.” —Rob Merrill, Associated Press
 
“Some books leave you with a feeling for which there are no words, or at least no words in English that you know of. Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts is one of those books. The feeling closest to what is evoked by this beautifully crafted novel is a stroll during the blue hour on the first warm evening of spring. A jewel of a book.” —Arlene McKanic, BookPage
  
“Elegant. . . . Lyrical. . . . Beautiful.” —Michael Magras, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A meditative and aching snapshot of a life in suspension. . . . Lahiri’s poetic flourishes and spare, conversational prose are on full display. This beautifully written portrait of a life in passage captures the hopes, frustrations, and longings of solitude and remembrance.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Painterly. . . . Exquisitely detailed. . . . [Lahiri’s] language seems to have been sieved through a fine mesh, each word a gleaming gemstone. Such expressive refinement perfectly embodies Lahiri’s narrator, who lives alone in an unnamed Italian city [and] examines her life in first-person vignettes. . . . There is melancholy here, but these concentrated, poignant, and rueful episodes also pulse with the narrator’s devotion to observation and her pushing through depression to live on her terms. She exalts in her lively neighborhood, in the country beneath skies as moody as she is, and by the tempestuous sea, all while recording her stealthy battle against her tendency to burrow into her shell. An incisive and captivating evocation of the nature and nexus of place and self.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Elegant, subtle, and sad. . . . Its spare, reflective prose and profound interiority recall the work of Rachel Cusk and Sigrid Nunez.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Subtle and stirring. . . . A fascinating departure in cadence and form for Lahiri. Whereabouts [is written with] the sort of deft hand so few can properly wield: it evokes the sort of slow thrum of despair and loneliness so few can manage well. But Lahiri is no ordinary writer. There’s a calming sense of comfort one finds in the solitude experienced by our main character, largely due to the exactness of Lahiri’s writing. Poetic as she is and always has been, seemingly innocuous turns of phrase cut to the core, while descriptions of light and darkness take you aback and make you swoon. Elegantly observed and often beautifully sad. . . . Whereabouts will stay with you longer than you anticipate.” —Alicia Lutes, USA Today

Author

© Laura Sciacovelli
JHUMPA LAHIRI, a bilingual writer and translator, is the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Barnard College, Columbia University. She received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for Interpreter of Maladies and is also the author of The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland. Since 2015, Lahiri has been writing fiction, essays, and poetry in Italian: In Altre Parole (In Other Words), Il Vestito dei libri (The Clothing of Books), Dove mi trovo (self-translated as Whereabouts), Il quaderno di Nerina, and Racconti romani. She received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2014, and in 2019 was named Commendatore of the Italian Republic by President Sergio Mattarella. Her most recent book in English, Translating Myself and Others, was a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. 

jhumpalahiri.net View titles by Jhumpa Lahiri

Excerpt

On the Sidewalk

In the mornings after breakfast I walk past a small marble plaque propped against the high wall flanking the road. I never knew the man who died. But over the years I’ve come to know his name, his surname. I know the month and day he was born and the month and day his life ended. This was a man who died two days after his birthday, in February.

It must have been an accident on his bike or his motorcycle. Or maybe he was walking at night, distracted. Maybe he was hit by a passing car.

He was forty-­four when it happened. I suppose he died in this very spot, on the sidewalk, next to the wall that sprouts neglected plants, which is why the plaque has been arranged at the bottom, at the feet of passersby. The road is full of curves and snakes uphill. It’s a bit dangerous. The sidewalk is vexing, crowded with exposed tree roots. Some sections are nearly impossible to negotiate because of the roots. That’s why I, too, tend to walk on the road.

There’s usually a candle burning in a container of red glass, along with a small bunch of flowers and the statue of a saint. There’s no photograph of him. Above the candle, attached to the wall, there’s a note from his mother, written by hand, encased in a milky plastic sleeve. It greets those who stop for a moment to ponder the death of her son. I would like to personally thank those who dedicate a few minutes of their time to my son’s memory, but if that’s not possible, I thank you anyway, from the bottom of my heart, it says.

I’ve never seen the mother or any other person in front of the plaque. Thinking of the mother just as much as the son, I keep walking, feeling slightly less alive.

 

On the Street

Now and then on the streets of my neighborhood I bump into a man I might have been involved with, maybe shared a life with. He always looks happy to see me. He lives with a friend of mine, and they have two children. Our relationship never goes beyond a longish chat on the sidewalk, a quick coffee together, perhaps a brief stroll in the same direction. He talks excitedly about his projects, he gesticulates, and now and then as we’re walking our synchronized bodies, already quite close, discreetly overlap.

One time he accompanied me into a lingerie shop because I had to choose a pair of tights to wear under a new skirt. I’d just bought the skirt and I needed the tights for that same evening. Our fingers grazed the textures splayed out on the counter as we sorted through the various colors. The binder of samples was like a book full of flimsy transparent pages. He was totally calm among the bras, the nightgowns, as if he were in a hardware store and not surrounded by intimate apparel. I was torn between the green and the purple. He was the one who convinced me to choose the purple, and the saleslady, putting the tights into the bag, said: Your husband’s got a great eye.

Pleasant encounters like this break up our daily meanderings. We have a chaste, fleeting bond. As a result it can’t advance, it can’t take the upper hand. He’s a good man, he loves my friend and their children.

I’m content with a firm embrace even though I don’t share my life with anyone. Two kisses on the cheeks, a short walk along a stretch of road. Without saying a word to each other we know that, if we chose to, we could venture into something reckless, also pointless.

This morning he’s distracted. He doesn’t recognize me until I’m right in front of him. He’s crossing a bridge at one end and I’m arriving from the other. We stop in the middle and look at the wall that flanks the river, and the shadows of pedestrians cast on its surface. They look like skittish ghosts advancing in a row, obedient souls passing from one realm to another. The bridge is flat and yet it looks as if the figures—­vaporous shapes against the solid wall—­are walking uphill, always climbing. They’re like inmates who proceed, silently, toward a dreadful end.

“It would be great, one day, to film this procession,” he says. “You can’t always see it, it depends on the position of the sun. But I’m always amazed, there’s something hypnotizing about it. Even when I’m in a hurry, I stop to watch.”

“So do I.”

He pulls out his cell phone. “Should we try?”

“How does it look?” I ask.

“No good. This contraption can’t capture them.”

We continue to watch the mute spectacle, the dark bodies that advance, never stopping.

“Where are you headed?”

“Work.”

“Me too.”

“Should we have a coffee?”

“I don’t have time today.”

“Okay, ciao, see you soon.”

We say goodbye, separate. Then we, too, become two shadows projected onto the wall: a routine spectacle, impossible to capture.

Praise

A Most Anticipated Novel of the Year from: Buzzfeed O, The Oprah Magazine TIME Vulture Vogue LitHub Harper's Bazaar

“A quietly bracing work of fiction . . . This is arguably Lahiri’s most beautifully written novel.”
—Jennifer Wilson, The Nation

“A gorgeous, contemplative read . . . Poetic prose that invites you to linger over the words.”
—Real Simple, “Best Books of 2021 (so far)”


Whereabouts is rendered in short, journal-like fragments so strongly and rightly voiced that other books sound wrong when you turn to them."
—Claire Dederer, The Atlantic

Lahiri writes with subtlety and delicacy.”
—Heller McAlpin, NPR

“Another masterstroke in a career already filled with them.”
—O, the Oprah Magazine


“Whereabouts signals a new mode for Lahiri, and a daring transformation . . . It feels true and wise to the core.”
—Anderson Tepper, Los Angeles Times

“Subtle and stirring . . . A fascinating departure in cadence and form for Lahiri. Whereabouts [is written with] the sort of deft hand so few can properly wield: it evokes the sort of slow thrum of despair and loneliness so few can manage well. But Lahiri is no ordinary writer. There’s a calming sense of comfort one finds in the solitude experienced by our main character, largely due to the exactness of Lahiri’s writing. Poetic as she is and always has been, seemingly innocuous turns of phrase cut to the core, while descriptions of light and darkness take you aback and make you swoon. Elegantly observed and often beautifully sad . . . Whereabouts will stay with you longer than you anticipate.”
—Alicia Lutes, USA Today

“Hypnotic…a book [whose] peculiar magnetism lies in its clash of candour and coyness.”
—Anthony Cummins, The Guardian

“Skillful… Lahiri's sentences are honed to minimalist beauty. A loose narrative emerges of an Italian woman at a crossroads in her life . . . The chapters detail encounters, but other humans are like passing shadows. The pain of the narrator’s isolation feels extremely real.”
—Madeleine Thien, The New York Times Book Review

“Lahiri’s prose shimmers with precise detail. Whether it’s an American-born son misunderstanding his Bengali father’s wishes in The Namesake or an Indian guide seeing dangers that American tourists cannot in Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri has demonstrated that she is a master of cultural collisions. Whereabouts returns to her ever-present theme, now in an Italian setting, of the terrors and joys wrought by bridging worlds.”
—L.A. Taggart, San Francisco Chronicle

“Fresh, unique . . . Lahiri [has] stretched the form of the novel. Wandering through an anonymous life, seeing things through one person’s eyes, is enjoyable . . . At one point the narrator becomes as voyeuristic as her readers, following a stranger on the street and asking herself, ‘What’s her face like? Has she always lived here, like me?’ Each chapter floats by quickly, [with] sparse and lyrical prose.”
—Rob Merrill, Associated Press
 
“Some books leave you with a feeling for which there are no words, or at least no words in English that you know of. Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts is one of those books. The feeling closest to what is evoked by this beautifully crafted novel is a stroll during the blue hour on the first warm evening of spring. A jewel of a book.”
—Arlene McKanic, BookPage
  
“Elegant . . . Lyrical . . . Beautiful.”
—Michael Magras, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A meditative and aching snapshot of a life in suspension... Lahiri’s poetic flourishes and spare, conversational prose are on full display. This beautifully written portrait of a life in passage captures the hopes, frustrations, and longings of solitude and remembrance."
—Publishers Weekly [starred review]

“Painterly… exquisitely detailed… [Lahiri’s] language seems to have been sieved through a fine mesh, each word a gleaming gemstone. Such expressive refinement perfectly embodies Lahiri’s narrator, who lives alone in an unnamed Italian city [and] examines her life in first-person vignettes… There is melancholy here, but these concentrated, poignant, and rueful episodes also pulse with the narrator's devotion to observation and her pushing through depression to live on her terms. She exalts in her lively neighborhood, in the country beneath skies as moody as she is, and by the tempestuous sea, all while recording her stealthy battle against her tendency to burrow into her shell. An incisive and captivating evocation of the nature and nexus of place and self.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist

"Elegant, subtle, and sad... Its spare, reflective prose and profound interiority recall the work of Rachel Cusk and Sigrid Nunez."
Kirkus

The New York Times’s 100 Best Books of the 21st Century

The New York Times recently published their list “100 Best Books of the 21st Century.” We are pleased to announce that there are 49 titles published from Penguin Random House and its distribution clients included in this list. Browse our collection of Penguin Random House titles here. Browse the full list from The New York

Read more

2024 Middle and High School Collections

The Penguin Random House Education Middle School and High School Digital Collections feature outstanding fiction and nonfiction from the children’s, adult, DK, and Grupo Editorial divisions, as well as publishers distributed by Penguin Random House. Peruse online or download these valuable resources to discover great books in specific topic areas such as: English Language Arts,

Read more

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

Read more

PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

Read more

PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

Read more