On Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Whereabouts”

Sharon Steel in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

WHEN WRITERS BEGIN to learn our craft, we’re told to write for ourselves. As one becomes further embedded in the creative process, it can be difficult to work with this pure impulse in mind. Write for ourselves, yes, but if the work never finds readers, what does that say about us? Do stories that exist in a one-sided conversation with their authors have as much value as stories that take on a life of their own?

Jhumpa Lahiri’s creative approach begins and ends with her own desires. She’s spoken of this many times over the years, from her love of filling notebooks no one else will read to her insatiable need to understand herself through language. Many other writers say similar things, but Lahiri is the rare writer who actually means them. Having an audience, a platform, and thousands of admiring readers are consequences, not goals, of her practice.

More here.