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Jhumpa Lahiri, novelist: 'Mick Jagger has changed the lives of millions of people'


Where are you now and what can you see?

In my study in Rome. From my desk I look out at the rooftops of Trastevere, and in the distance, the neighborhoods of Aventino, Testaccio, Ostiense, and Garbatella, and the hills of the Castelli Romani. The sun is setting now, so the magnificent pink glow that illuminates the city in the early evening just disappeared.

What are you currently reading?

Chiara di Assisi by Dacia Maraini, Storia del Nuovo Cognome by Elena Ferrante, and Operette Morali by Giacomo Leopardi. I'm also reading the Italian translation of C. S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader aloud to my children.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

I love Thomas Hardy for the beauty of his writing, the breadth of his story-telling, the unsparing darkness of his vision.

Describe the room where you usually write

I either write in my study at home, which is so sunny in the mornings that I need to wear sunglasses, or in a library close to the Tiber, seated beneath a frescoed ceiling. The room in the library looks out onto the street where the body of Aldo Moro, killed by the Red Brigades, was discovered in 1978, in the trunk of a red Renault.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Pandora. I'm nothing if not curious.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Mick Jagger, because he is someone who has not only changed the lives of millions of people for the better, but always inspires me to try to break the rules.

Jhumpa Lahiri's 'The Lowland' (Bloomsbury) is shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction