Friday, July 17, 2009

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

In Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri has written eight stories about relationships. Each story draws on the Indian immigrant experience, or that of being an immigrant parent's child. The stories explore many different types of relationships. The first, Unaccumstomed Earth, explores the relationship between a grown child and a parent as the parent grows older and loses a spouse. Lahiri delicately explores the disparity between what the child imagines the parent feels and wants, and what those desires are in reality. Other stories explore relationships between husband and wives, between those immigrant children who choose nontraditional partners who aren't Indian and their families, or sibling relationships.

The last three stories share a common thread. Two Indian families are friends. One returns to India for several years, and when they return to America, stay with the other family for several months. The returning family has a teenage boy while the host family has a daughter just entering her teen years. In Once In A Lifetime, this story is told and the distant relationship between the children is discussed. In Year's End, we hear the son's story as he enters adulthood. His mother has died and his father has remarried, giving him stepsisters. In the book's final story, Going Ashore, we hear the story of what has occurred to the young girl of the host family, and then, these two meet again and become lovers.

Unaccustomed Earth is a New York Times Best Book Of The Year. I enjoyed this book, and I'm often not a fan of short stories. Each story related another dimension of human relationships, often exploring topics I'd not considered. Lahiri has an innate understanding of the myriad human relationships, and the skill to write about her understanding in a way that provokes thought. This book is recommended for all fiction readers.


Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

This sounds good.

Anonymous said...

This book one of my favorites. Lahiri has a way of expressing complex feelings of Indo-Americans in an easy to understand way. I also post opinions about books I'm reading similiar to this one:

bathmate said...

it really very good.
I love it !
I like it !
thanks :)- .