Alisha Mascarenhas Reviews The Autobiography
I begin reading Mirene Arsanios’s The Autobiography of a Language at dawn, seated at a window at LaGuardia airport. I am waiting with an espresso and a papery croissant to board my flight to Montreal, where I previously lived for six years. This also happens to be where the author situates some of the first chronicles of her coming into a multifaceted, transnational learning to be in language.
No, I begin in 2018 when, hosted by e-flux journal, Mirene reads from her “E autobiography di un idioma” in a dark upper floor room in Lower Manhattan. I am alone, sipping chilled white wine from an elegant plastic cup. I am immediately seduced by the poolside scene, and the dry, ironic tone of the author’s voice as she tells the story of the embodiment of a language, “centuries old and… pregnant for the past 20 years.” I have been in New York less than a year, and Mirene is a teacher, mentor, and intellectual crush who I occasionally run into in Bed-Stuy, where we both lived at the time.