The Genius of Language: Fifteen Writers Reflect on Their Mother Tongues
Bharati Mukherjee describes how her family was driven out of her Bengal hometown by the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1946, and how the experience made the ... Show synopsis Bharati Mukherjee describes how her family was driven out of her Bengal hometown by the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1946, and how the experience made the Bangla language all the more important to them, ultimately leaving its mark on her English-language storytelling style. Amy Tan tells of her frustration with simplistic cultural comparisons between English and Chinese. Josef /?/kvorecky writes about his decision, as a boy in his native Czechoslovakia, to learn English so he could write a love letter to Judy Garland. Insight into the genius of other languages abounds. For Ariel Dorfman, one of the great pleasures of Spanish is its fluid sense of time. Luc Sante writes about the "silken chains of prepositional phrases" and "incantatory power" of French. For Leonard Michaels, paradox is everywhere in Yiddish and may explain the Jewish love of jokes. Wendy Lesser--a celebrated essayist in her own right--has put together a rich and often surprising work, a book brimming with pleasures for lovers of literature, travel, memoir, and, above all, language.