“Nothing is ours. Life is borrowed. We’re here for such a short time and we just pass through and borrow it all. We borrow the sky, we borrow the trees. We borrow people, things, and then we let go. We pass through, and the world remains.” – Jhumpa Lahiri, episode 223 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
On this holiday weekend we’re revisiting a special episode with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jhumpa Lahiri (“Interpreter of Maladies”, “The Namesake”). In vivid, writerly detail Lahiri describes being raised in a family “spread out in various places” (5:05), her late mother’s recurring presence in her writing (10:20), the comfort (and pain) of being an observer (17:45), and the vibrancy she found in Rome (26:32), which inspired her new novel (written in Italian, translated in English) “Whereabouts” (29:45).
On the back-half, Jhumpa reflects on the metamorphosis that occurred in her mother’s final days (35:00), how her familial ties (from Kolkata to Rhode Island) informed her early work (42:20), and, finally, why she writes (46:47).
Jhumpa Lahiri with her mother and father, Tapati and Amar Lahiri, 1969.