Jhumpa Lahiri joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss “Quaestio De Centauris,” by Primo Levi, translated from the Italian by Jenny McPhee, which appeared in a 2015 issue of the magazine. Lahiri is the author of four books of fiction, including the story collection “Interpreter of Maladies,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000, and the novel “The Lowland.” She is the editor of “The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories,” which was published in September.
I highly recommend this reading and discussion of Primo Levi’s Quaestio De Centauris, which I translated a few years ago as part of the story collection Natural Histories included in The Complete Works of Primo Levi, edited by Ann Goldstein. When you translate something you spend so much time with the text, and on such an initmate level, you can sometimes come to feel that you know the author and the story as deeply as possible. Jhumpa’s reading of this story and her subsequent comments showed me that, of course, with any great work of literature there is always so much more to learn, so much deeper you can go. I am a devotee of podcasts, and I love The New Yorker Fiction Podcast for the wonderful juxtapositions that occur in the pairings of one writer to another writer’s work. This one is especially illuminating and an overall transforming experience.