Book Review: Dreaming in Hindi – Katherine Russell Rich

Title: Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language
Author: Katherine Russell Rich
ISBN: 9780618155453
Pages: 384
Release Date: July 7, 2009
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary:

At the age of 45, Katherine Russell Rich took a chance on something – while on a writing assignment in India, she decided to move to the northern city of Udaipur and study Hindi while living with an Indian host family.  This memoir presents the sum of her experiences, as well as her reflections on living in India and research into learning other languages.

Review:

Dreaming in Hindi was an interesting look at the process of learning another language, as well as life in India during a charged period of sectarian violence.  I first picked this book up because, though I don’t speak Hindi (I speak our local Southern language, Telugu), I’ve always thought about trying to learn it.  I was eager to learn something from this memoir, and I definitely did.

There are a lot of different parts to this book.  Rich discusses what scientists and doctors have learned about the process of learning another language – how it’s done, what diseases might affect it, and so on.  I found these parts of the book to be incredibly interesting.  Rich does a wonderful job making her learning relevant and applying it to language studies in general.

Rich was in India during 9/11, and as a result of that and other religious terrorism in India (it’s a part of everyday life there, unfortunately), there is a bit of a charged atmosphere to this book.  Rich relates these events to the reader and describes how they affect the area she’s living in.  It was very interesting, if sad, to see the tensions between Hindus and Muslims.

The personal part of this memoir is where it didn’t work for me.  While Rich’s experiences were very interesting, I didn’t love the way they were communicated to the reader.  This memoir is large and fluid, jumping from one area to another.  As a result, it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on.  I had a very difficult time figuring out who people were and keeping them straight.  While I did enjoy reading the book as a whole, I found it to be slow and sometimes difficult to get through because of these frustrations.

I’d recommend Dreaming in Hindi to those interested in the process of learning a language and the science behind it.  It’s also a good memoir of India, though as I mentioned, the style can be difficult at times.

Comments

  1. I’ve wanted to learn Hindi myself and tried and was successful for about 3 months going religiously for my weekly class but then other office commitments got in the way and sadly I had to stop. This is one language I have been very keen to learn. This book should be good for me. I’d love to go and live in Varanasi for an year but thats wishful thinking!

  2. I’ve wanted to learn Hindi myself and tried and was successful for about 3 months going religiously for my weekly class but then other office commitments got in the way and sadly I had to stop. This is one language I have been very keen to learn. This book should be good for me. I’d love to go and live in Varanasi for an year but thats wishful thinking!

  3. I’d be interested to know about learning a language, especially to know if very young children get confused if they learn more than one language at a time.

    Harvee Sunday Salon: Read-a-Thon Wrap-Up

  4. I’d be interested to know about learning a language, especially to know if very young children get confused if they learn more than one language at a time.

    Harvee Sunday Salon: Read-a-Thon Wrap-Up

  5. I had wanted to read this prior to my trip to India in Dec/Jan but ended up not getting to it. I still plan to read it – I generally like memoirs and am interested in reading her impressions of India. I am terrible at languages and cannot imagine learning one a difficult as Hindi!

  6. I had wanted to read this prior to my trip to India in Dec/Jan but ended up not getting to it. I still plan to read it – I generally like memoirs and am interested in reading her impressions of India. I am terrible at languages and cannot imagine learning one a difficult as Hindi!

  7. I’ve tried to learn a second language (French) with only a small amount of success, so the language part of the book does appeal to me.

  8. I’ve tried to learn a second language (French) with only a small amount of success, so the language part of the book does appeal to me.

  9. I have this one on my wishlist so thank you for the honest review!

  10. I have this one on my wishlist so thank you for the honest review!

  11. This book sure sounds amazing. As an Indian, I am interested in how visitors perceive this land and how they measure their experiences. I will be reading this. Good review!

  12. This book sure sounds amazing. As an Indian, I am interested in how visitors perceive this land and how they measure their experiences. I will be reading this. Good review!

  13. The title caught me immediately, I’m learning Hindi at the moment and am also really interested in languages and how we learn them. One to remember definitely.

  14. The title caught me immediately, I’m learning Hindi at the moment and am also really interested in languages and how we learn them. One to remember definitely.

  15. I would love to read Dreaming in Hindi.

  16. I would love to read Dreaming in Hindi.

  17. I just finished reading this book, and I think it is badly written book. Sometimes I just felt as if the whole book was put a box and jumbled, and the events, people and everything else just mixed up. Style or editing makes it a very difficult read.

    Apart from the theory of learning languages, there is hardly anything for the reader, specially an Indian reader. Will post my review soon on my blog.

    -Anu

  18. I just finished reading this book, and I think it is badly written book. Sometimes I just felt as if the whole book was put a box and jumbled, and the events, people and everything else just mixed up. Style or editing makes it a very difficult read.

    Apart from the theory of learning languages, there is hardly anything for the reader, specially an Indian reader. Will post my review soon on my blog.

    -Anu

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