Jhumpa Lahiri is as immensely wonderful writer. I have read both of her short story collections and her two novels as well as some short stories not yet included in collections. Additionally I have read and very highly recommend her introduction to Malgudi Nights, a collection of the short stories of a true master of the form, R. K. Narayan.
The Clothing of Books should be taken as required reading by authors, bibliophiles, publishers, literary agents, book store owners, librarians and publicists. The old saying is "you cannot judge a book by the cover" but as Lahiri tells us it sure can impact sales and reader expectations. Lahiri begins her work, taken from a lecture, explaining how she was impacted in her youth by her appearance in an area with few of Subcontinent descent. She saw how people formed impressions based on her appearance. She grew up surrounded by books, she talks about her father's work as a librarian. After the opening chapter she talks about the cover jackets for her own books. Even a writer as successful as Lahiri is not fully in charge of the jacket art. I was surprised to read that with the many translations of her work, there have been over 100 jackets employed for her first four books. Some are bland, others tried to capitalize on her ancestory, casting her work in an stereotypical Indian background.
Lahiri talks about the good and bad qualities in book jackets. I was interested to learn that she reads only hard copy books but she also talks about cover images for E books. In one very interesting segment she tells about her favorite series of books and their jackets.
The Clothing of Books was very informative. I learned a lot about book jackets, as art and as sales tools. But best of all it was just so enjoyable to read the elegant ever so refined and deeply cultured prose of Lahiri.
I was kindly given a review copy of The Clothing of Books. If you love real books, ok I know E books are real, then you will enjoy this book.
This cover does nothing for me