Friday, January 09, 2015

Unaccustomed Earth

My sister lent me her copy of Unaccustomed Earth, a set of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, and urged me to read it as she said the writing was wonderful.  Since I always do as told by my older siblings, I read it and Frances was right, I loved it.

I've been wanting to read more diversely and this was a good way to dip my toe into the water.  The stories are generally about the Indian immigrant experience, set in places like New England and the Pacific Northwest with trips to India, Thailand, and London.  They are stories of families coming apart and coming together, daughters trying to be dutiful but trying to live their own lives, sons who fail to live up to expectations, individuals trying to become a couple despite cultural barriers, generations striving to understand each other.

The writing is lovely--poignant, soft, even mellow, but with an undertow that catches you off-guard and makes you remember the story for days.  The way short stories are supposed to work!

I'll definitely be looking for other books by Lahiri as I can envision her becoming a new favorite author.


  1. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it! I read it earlier last year and it had the same effect on me - I kept thinking about it for days afterwards. The last story especially made heart twist.

    If you loved this, I'd also suggest "Homesick" by Roshi Fernando - it's also about the immigrant and diasporic experience, but from a Sri Lankan pov. The main thing was the writing - it slowly pulled you in in an almost dream-like way, but was also very sharp and incisive. I can't really describe but I'd highly recommend it :)

  2. I loved this book, too, and can also recommend Interpreter of Maladies. I plan to read The Lowland sometime this year.

  3. I also really need to diversify my reading. This sounds really good.

    I like your description of what sounds like calm writing style.

  4. I love short stories, so I may have to give this book a go.

  5. I haven't got to this author yet but haven't heard a bad word about the books. Glad to hear you liked it so much.

  6. I read this several years ago for book club but I was the only one who read it. So disappointed not to be able to discuss it!