KATHERINE RUSSELL RICH was the award-winning author of The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer--and Back. She wrote for the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Slate, and Vogue, and taught writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until her death in 2012 after a nearly quarter-century battle with breast cancer.
Rich, the author of The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer-and Back, recounts in this wonderful memoir her subsequent life's journey: immersing herself in the transformative complexities of learning Hindi. Fired from her New York City magazine job, palpating the possibility of being a full-time writer and tempted by the "foolproof out" that was traveling to India, Rich ensconced herself in a yearlong language program in Udaipur, in the northwest state of Rajasthan, where with three other students she struggled to get her brain, and tongue, around the disorienting "monsoon of words" in the total immersion program. A delicate balance of social graces determined success or failure, as the author learned painfully when she felt compelled to relocate from the home of her host family, an extended Jain clan, because of misunderstanding over her nonmarried status. Fluidly interspersed within her witty, tongue-in-cheek account of the nutty fellow students and nosy, however well-meaning, Indian spectators are comments and elucidation on second-language acquisition from experts, and observations while visiting a school for the deaf. Homesick, rattled by the violence, Rich nonetheless arrived at making jokes and actually dreaming in Hindi, and in her deft and spirited prose depicts being literally "possessed by words." (July) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"Dreaming in Hindi is the verbally and emotionally dazzling
story of Rich's passage to India, where she tried to master an
intricate foreign tongue--and became fluent in the language of
human possibility." --O, The Oprah Magazine, "Ten Terrific
Reads of 2009" "Riveting and sharply observed." --Wall Street
Journal "A work that will inevitably be compared to Elizabeth
Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love . . . [Dreaming in Hindi] traces the
far-flung adventures of a thoughtful, soul-searching, single woman
from New York." --New York Times "Rich is a charming raconteur."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"In her deftly written memoir, Dreaming in Hindi, Rich makes us wish we too could come alive in a foreign world, fearless of mistakes, misperceptions and mishaps, and enlivened by the unfamiliar . . . a natural journalist, [she] gracefully sprinkles reportage about neuroscience and linguistics, as well as her own poignant insights, into her narrative." --Elle "[A] wonderful memoir . . . Fluidly interspersed within [Rich's] witty, tongue-in-cheek account of the nutty fellow students and nosy, however well-meaning, Indian spectators are comments and elucidation on second-language acquisition from experts, and observations while visiting a school for the deaf . . . In her deft and spirited prose [Rich] depicts being literally 'possessed by words.'" --Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Rich has a witty, conversational, intimate voice that draws the reader into experiences that sometimes seem surreal, sometimes all too real. The science is fascinating." --Portsmouth Herald "Lovely." --Houston Chronicle "Piquant, frank, and penetrating, Rich's intricate memoir is as beguiling as language itself." --Booklist "A charming intellectual travelogue, partly about the culture and history of India, partly about the nature of language and language learning, and also, as usual for great travel writing, very much about its author. 'I ski Hindi, ' [Rich writes and] elsewhere in the book, she skis psycholinguistics, in long, gleeful conversations in university laboratories . . . and just about every other language-related discipline gets at least one downhill run as well." --Mark Liberman in Language Log "One of the best foreign observers of contemporary India, Rich's gaze on the country is witty, empathetic, and intimate." --Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City "A hilarious and erudite book about the pratfalls involved in learning another language. Dreaming in Hindi is also a sobering examination of the violence of culture clash and an eloquent testimony to the transformative power of genuine immersion in another world." --Wendy Doniger, author of The Hindus "Dreaming in Hindi is a funny, deeply humane journey of words that invites the reader to awaken to new sounds and sensibilities in India. What a gorgeous, intelligent book!" --Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Lark and Termite