First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.


“A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies–her first in nearly a decade.

Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars. We follow her to the pool she frequents and to the train station that sometimes leads her to her mother, mired in a desperate solitude after her father’s untimely death. In addition to colleagues at work, where she never quite feels at ease, she has girl friends, guy friends, and “him,” a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. But in the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun’s vital heat, her perspective will change.

This is the first novel she has written in Italian and translated into English. It brims with the impulse to cross barriers. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement. (Source: Goodreads)”

Happy Friday everyone! Cheers to all of us for surviving the week. The week has, so far, been pretty uneventful although the COVID19 cases in the Philippines have been increasing again these past few days because of the presence of the Delta variant. I am hoping that the reimposition of the strictest lockdown protocol in the National Capital Region and other critical provinces will help curb the further spread of the dreaded virus. I just hope that this pandemic will end soon. I also pray that you are all doing well, in body, mind, and spirit, despite the challenging times.

Whilst Friday means the gateway to the weekends, it also means a First Impression update. After almost two months of indulging in the works of Japanese literature, I have transitioned to books which were published this year. I started with Ashley Audrain’s The Push (an interesting and intimate read) and I am now reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest work, Whereabouts. After The Namesake, this is my second novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. It was a novel I was looking forward to when I learned that it was going to be published this year. It has also been five years since I read The Namesake.

Whereabouts was Lahiri’s first novel to be written in Italian; she would later translate it to English. At the center of the narrative is an anonymous female narrator who is working as a professor at a local university or college (or a profession that is along those line). The setting was never mentioned although I get the feeling that it is a random Italian city as piazza and trattoria were both mentioned by the primary character. She goes about describing the people she interacts with and the places she visit.

The story doesn’t seem to have any clear direction. Whilst the narrative rarely meanders, there doesn’t seem to be any clear plot. The narrator, uncharacteristically, was not also trying to drown the readers with intricate details. What is making the narrative flourish, however, were the minutiae of daily activities transpiring around the main character. She has an astute sense of observation and she was incorporating it in her story. The setting also sounds both idyllic and mundane at the same time. Again, the narrator is not trying to burden the readers with unnecessary details.

I just read a concise review of the book. She said that it is a book about everything and nothing at the same time. It actually summarizes how I am feeling after completing nearly eighty pages of the book. There is no sense of direction, so far, but I don’t mind as I am having a pleasurable time plowing through the details of her observations. The writing also makes me feel as though I was there, observing these things happen. It is a light story but I do sense that a Eureka moment will happen later in the story. What this Eureka moment is propelling me to finish the story.

One more important point that needs to be highlighted is that she is already in her forties and is still single. The daughter of her friend said she wanted to be like her – a strong, independent woman. However, she made the impression that she does not see herself as such. It piques me why. The novel is rather short and it does seem likely that I will complete it over the weekend. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!