Dreaming In Hindi

Life In Translation

Katherine Russell Rich

Published: 4 August 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 384 pages
ISBN: 9781846272622


Having survived a serious illness and reached an impasse in her career, Katherine Russell Rich spontaneously accepts a freelance assignment in India, where she finds herself utterly overwhelmed by the place and the language. Before she knows it she is on her way to Udaipur, a city in Rajasthan, to live with a local family and join a special language school offering 'total immersion'. What follows is a year of linguistic adventure and cultural surprises in which Rich gradually sheds her foreignness, to discover a new country and a new way of communicating. Both a clever, lucid and funny memoir, and a unique investigation into the science of language acquisition, Dreaming in Hindi offers an engrossing account of what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves.

About the author

Image of Katherine Russell Rich

Katherine Russell Rich is the author of Dreaming in Hindi: Life in Translation, and the award-winning memoir The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer and Back. Her writing appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Salon, and O, the Oprah Magazine and she taught writing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She died in 2012. http://www.katherinerussellrich.com/ More about the author


This gem of a book deserves to outshine Eat, Pray, Love ... As well as a memoir of spiritual recovery, the result amounts to the sharpest, clearest and most illuminating book about the challenge - and non-mystical magic - of language-learning any reader could want. Bursting with character, charm and comedy, her Rajasthani year of "life in translation" also delves genially into the linguistic mysteries of the mind.’ Boyd Tonkin



‘A natural journalist, [Rich] gracefully sprinkles reportage about neuroscience and linguistics, as well as her own poignant insights, into her narrative.’

‘A riveting memoir - the book illuminates the truth that when we learn a language, we learn an entire culture. One of the best foreign observers of contemporary India, Rich's gaze is witty, empathetic, and intimate.Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City

‘A work that will inevitably be compared to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love [...] it traces the far-flung adventures of a thoughtful, soul-searching single woman from New York... In addition to reporting on life in India, Rich interviews linguists and other experts about just what happens inside your head when you learn another language. The transformation Rich undertakes isn't just spiritual or metaphorical but neurological.’

‘An enthralling account of how learning a language can not only teach us about a culture but can dramatically re-shape who we are - cognitively, psychologically and socially.’ Elizabeth Whyman

‘Fortified with neuroscience and laced with humour, [this] is a crash course in emotional agility, in an understanding too deep for words.’

‘Part travel-reportage, part-history of linguistics, this is a gripping personal memoir of self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment that like Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling Eat, Pray Love, is sure to inspire a generation of soul-searching women to learn a new language.’

‘There are sections of the book that beautifully convey how the discovery of a language allows the newly-minted speaker to penetrate the rhythms of a people, their family and social mores... on the memoir side, Katherine is indeed rich: soft and funny about her painful struggle to swim deeper into Rajasthani culture through her new ocean of words, at other times very moving as she rebuilds herself, not only in another lexicon, but in body language, dress and behaviour.’ Justine Hardy

‘While there's certainly no shortage of travel memoirs from writers who have upped sticks and left their hectic city lifestyles behind them, Katherine Russell Rich's account is richer than most .... As her Hindi improves, Rich's behaviour, views and even her looks alter - ample proof that language is far more than new words for familiar concepts.’

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