Thursday, October 9, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (a review)

Unaccustomed Earth
4.5 out of 5: As we've come to expect from Jhumpa Lahiri, this collection of eight short stories examines the immigrant experience in America, including the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture and workplace and the clashes between immigrant parents and their fully American children. Lahiri's stories, however, are not limited to immigrant issues but address global issues relevant worldwide: how we need our parents, how we develop our independence, and how we give up that independence to form lasting relationships. More than anything, these stories capture the search for a comfortable identity.

Lahiri’s writing is rich with detail and complexity, making these short stories seem more like novels that end too soon. Lahiri's style is powerful. There's no sentimentality here but plenty of sensitivity and feeling. Many of these stories contain a hidden element or event of such significance that, when finally revealed at the end of the story, changes everything that came before. It’s the shock of these surprising occurrences that makes each story a living, changing experience. Fabulous.

6 comments:

rjsbooklady said...

I LOVED this book when I read it in the spring, and I'm still struggling to find words to describe it. You've done a very nice job here.

S. Krishna said...

Great review - I really want to read this one!

Anna van Gelderen said...

OK, you've convinced me that I should buy this book. I don't normally read short stories (they're too ... eh ... short), but you have to make exceptions to every rule now and then.
Besides, I also liked The Namesake, so I know that Lahiri can write.

Gwen Dawson said...

This collection received so many good reviews, it's almost clich├ęd to add another one. I couldn't help it, though. This is a great book.

bermudaonion said...

Sounds good - I love a good immigrant story.

Diana Raabe said...

This is a fine review and I agree with your assessment. Lahiri really shines when she is writing short stories that deal with a cross-section of Indian and American cultures.