The Sebald Lecture 2021: Jhumpa Lahiri In Praise of Echo

Jhumpa Lahiri

For more information

  • This event has taken place
  • Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546
  • Email:

The annual lecture on literary translation.

This is a free online event hosted on the British Library platform. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

This year’s Sebald Lecture on literary translation is given by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri, who writes in both English and Italian. Considering metamorphosis as a kind of translation, Lahiri reflects on the myth of Echo and Narcissus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and what it teaches us about identity, originality and finding a voice. She discusses her own transformations from novelist to translator, from a writer of English to a writer of Italian and emphasises the value of translation to any literary writer. Presented by the British Centre for Literary Translation in association with the National Centre for Writing and the British Library.

The Sebald Lecture is given annually on an aspect of literature in translation and is named after W.G. Sebald who set up the British Centre for Literary Translation in 1989. ‘Max’ was a German writer who opted to live in the UK and continue writing in German. His novels and essays include The Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz and On the Natural History of Destruction, and they established him as a leading writer of the 20th century.

This event is free to attend but booking is required. You may purchase a copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s new novel Whereabouts at checkout for £14.99 (with free UK postage) and attend the event at no extra cost*

Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000 and many other awards for her debut short story collection The Interpreter of Maladies. Since then she has published in English a further story collection (Unaccustomed Earth, 2008) and two novels: The Namesake (2003) and The Lowland (2013, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize). In 2012 she immersed herself in the Italian language and moved to Italy, documenting the process in her Italian-language memoir In altre parole (translated by Ann Goldstein as In Other Words, 2016). She has published her own translations from the Italian of two novels by Domenico Starnone – Ties (2017) and Trick (2018), the latter awarded the 2020 John Florio Prize by the UK Society of Authors. Her Italian-language novel Dove mi trovo (2018) is forthcoming in English self-translation as Whereabouts (May 2021). Jhumpa Lahiri is Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University, and divides her time between Princeton and Rome.

Image of Lydia Davis © Theo Cote

Presented in association with the British Centre for Literary Translation

*Please note. An additional postage charge of £5 applies for orders from outside the UK. Books purchased will normally be dispatched within 7 days after the event. Please ensure your address is up to date on your British Library account. 

The British Library is a charity. Your support helps us open up a world of knowledge and inspiration for everyone. Donate today.


Name: The Sebald Lecture 2021: Jhumpa Lahiri In Praise of Echo
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546