Roman Stories

Books on Tape. Oct. 2023. tr. from Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri & Todd Portnowitz. 6:05 hrs. ISBN 9780593788356. $57. F
This collection of nine stories by Pulitzer Prize winner Lahiri showcases her masterful ability to create scenes that carry emotional weight without feeling overwrought, maintaining an overall melancholic ambiance. In “P’s Parties,” a writer crafts a poignant short story exploring the intricate connection between two characters reminiscent of himself and a casual friend of his wife’s. He ends up embarrassing himself and everyone else by crossing a line and accidentally kissing the friend in front of both their families. Another standout, “The Steps,” unfolds against the enchanting backdrop of Rome, with Lahiri expertly incorporating events that have transpired there. Throughout the collection, Lahiri skillfully captures the picturesque Italian landscape and culture, weaving narratives around individuals who find themselves as outsiders in various ways. The audiobook features a cast of narrators, including Deepti Gupta, Carlotta Brentan, Cassandra Campbell, Ari Fliakos, and Michael Obiora. While each narrator demonstrates competence, the quality is somewhat uneven, with some contributing more to the listening experience than others.
VERDICT Despite the mixed quality of the narrator ensemble, Lahiri is an important author, and this collection will find a wide audience in most libraries.
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