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Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Digging to America (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Anne Tyler

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3,0421191,863 (3.59)228
Title:Digging to America
Authors:Anne Tyler
Info:Knopf (2006), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Digging to America by Anne Tyler (2006)

  1. 10
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (terran)
    terran: While reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, I kept remembering the interracial romance in Digging to America. The Major is the ultimate in Britishness, while the Donaldsons are the quintessential American couple.

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» See also 228 mentions

English (110)  Dutch (3)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
'about insiders and outsiders, pride and prejudice, families and the impossibility of ever getting it right'
Bysally tarboxTOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 October 2012
Format: Paperback
I found this a very readable book: the account of the all-American Donaldsons and the Iranian Yazdans who each adopt a Korean baby. This causes them to remain friends, but there are tensions- both cultural and based on personality differences. As elegant Maryam Yazdan, the grandmother, observes ' Americans are all larger than life. You think that if you keep company with them you will be larger too, but then you see that they're making you shrink; they're expanding and edging you out. I could feel myself slipping away.'
There's moments of sadness and of humour during the girls' first years- I particularly liked Bitsy Donaldson's obsessive wish to stop baby Xiu-Mei's dependence on a soother. The grand plan, to send up all the soothers on helium balloons to the fairy and get a present in return fails miserably...
The weakness for me came in the ending, which seemed feeble.
But all in all an enjoyable novel with convincing characters. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
Anne Tyler is a master at writing about the little day to day things that occupy our lives while subtly teaching us amazing things. In Digging to America she tells the story of two American families.

One is a family of European descent, made up of people one expects in suburbia. There's Bitsy and Brad Donaldson. Bitsy is a well intentioned woman, but one who likes to encourage others to do things her way. Brad is an easy going man who not only goes along with Bitsy's ideas but seems to enjoy them. Bitsy's dad is also an important part of this family. He's a widower who is lonely and looking for someone with whom to share the rest of his life.

The second American family is the Yazdans. These are people of Iranian descent who have settled in America. The politics in Iran drove them out of that country, but there is very little focus on that aspect of their culture. In this family there is Sami, a man who has been raised in America and his wife, Ziba, who grew up in Iran. Maryam is Sami's mother. She is a widow whose arranged marriage had some problems.

The two families meet at an airport where both the Donaldsons and the Yazdans are awaiting the arrival of daughters they have adopted from Korea. The two families become friends and learn from each other as their children grow.

This novel speaks to topics such as adoption and going on after losing a spouse. But it's main focus is on defining (or questioning) what is an American family.

I was glad I read this book now, since at the time I'm writing this we are in the process of picking candidates to run for President. The issue of how to treat Muslims is going to be huge in this election. This book gives us a picture of an average Muslim family. They have issues, like everyone else, and some of those issues concern a background with problems due to Iranian politics. But they are focused on raising their child and on their relationships with their friends, just like the rest of us. I think a book like this helps us remember that people are people and that using a religious belief as a rational to create databases that track people and limit their freedoms is a dangerous step and one that does not make the world a safer place.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Mar 22, 2016 |
I've really enjoyed Anne Tyler's books in the past, and this mines basically the same territory - family, fitting in, growing old. As always, there's not much plot, there are shifting perspectives and the writing is solid. But this time around it all just really bored me - I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters or what happened to them and was just glad to finish it. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
The novel begins in 1997 with all of the members of the Donaldson’s large extended family waiting at the Baltimore airport for the arrival of Brad and Bitsy’s adopted Korean daughter. Also waiting are Sami and Ziba Yazdan and Sami’s mother, Maryam, Iranian immigrants whose adopted Korean daughter is arriving on the same plane. From this chance encounter, the two families begin an unlikely friendship that looks like it will last the rest of their lives. As with a lot of Tyler’s novels, family is a major theme, but this novel is unique in that she also introduces the theme of what it means to be an American and how it feels to be an outsider looking into that culture.

I really enjoyed this novel because it’s different from most of the other books I’ve read. The characters aren’t as off the wall quirky as they are in many of Tyler’s novels, although they still have their flaws. I also really liked the insights into Iranian culture and immigrant culture. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This was my first Anne Tyler book and I enjoyed it. I chose it because it dealt with foreign adoptions, which I relate to. It was well written and believable. Recommend! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
in "Digging to America," Tyler's characters face the future, not the past, so she doesn't let the freight of personal history freeze their forward motion, although it sometimes slows them down.
All these parties provide Tyler with the set pieces at which she so excels - although after the third or fourth farcical arrival ceremonies, the reader begins to tire of them as much as some of the family members. This also contributes to the sense in some of Tyler's more recent fiction that the parts, deliciously funny and sharply observed, are more satisfying than the whole.
added by lkernagh | editThe Guardian, Lisa Allardice (May 20, 2006)
There is so much truth here, as Tyler strips away the issue of ethnic difference to reach the heart of her complex and compelling matter.
Point of view is passed on from chapter to chapter in a subtle dance. This is beautifully done, but the effect of multiple viewpoints is to muffle the distinctiveness of the first.

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At eight o'clock in the evening, the Baltimore airport was nearly deserted.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307263940, Hardcover)

In what is perhaps her richest and most deeply searching novel, Anne Tyler gives us a story about what it is to be an American, and about Maryam Yazdan, who after
Thirty-five years in this country must finally come to terms with her “outsiderness.”

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport—the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam’s fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian American wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate with an “arrival party,” an event that is repeated every year as the two families become more deeply intertwined.

Even independent-minded Maryam is drawn in. But only up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by one of the Donaldson clan, a good-hearted man of her vintage, recently widowed and still recovering from his wife’s death, suddenly all the values she cherishes—her traditions, her privacy, her otherness—are threatened. Somehow this big American takes up so much space that the orderly boundaries of her life feel invaded.

A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that cast a penetrating light on the American way as seen from two perspectives, those who are born here and those who are still struggling to fit in.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:13 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Two families awaiting the arrival of their adopted infant daughters from Korea meet at the airport. The families lives become interwined after the Donaldsons, a young American couple invite the Yazdan's, Maryam, her son and his Iranian American wife to an arrival party, which becomes an annual event. Maryam, who came to this country thirty-five years earlier, feels her values threatened when she is courted by a newly widowed Donaldson. A penetrating light on the American way as seen from two perspectives, those who are born here and those who are still struggling to fit in.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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