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Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Unaccustomed Earth (2008)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9211611,313 (4.14)327
  1. 90
    Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (reenum)
  2. 50
    The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (reenum)
  3. 20
    A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies: Stories by John Murray (ShortStoryLover)
    ShortStoryLover: Murray's style of writing in this collection of short stories is similarly subtle to Jhumpa Lahiri's in her short story collections. Several of his stories feature Indian-Americans, and two are set in India.
  4. 20
    Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (Inesdelreves)
    Inesdelreves: Un incidente sin importancia desencadena una verdadera hecatombe en el seno de la familia. Una novela sobre la importancia del lugar que cada cual ocupa en el mundo
  5. 10
    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (chrisharpe)
  6. 00
    Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays by Eula Biss (Maiasaura)
  7. 00
    A Person of Interest: A Novel by Susan Choi (tangentialine)
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» See also 327 mentions

English (153)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (161)
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
Jhumpa Lahiri writes beautiful stories about families straddling cultures, usually Bengali and American, that are filled with the common experience of loss and loneliness. Her writing is fluent and insightful, but, in this book at least, so sad. Even though I read this over a couple of weeks, spacing out the stories, I still found each one to be sad in some way which made the whole reading experience kind of depressing.

The collection is presented in two parts, the first five stories sort of linked thematically, but not containing repeat characters. The second part is three stories with two main characters, Hema and Kaushik. I'll avoid any plot synopses because with short stories there is just too much to give away.

Overall, I really love Lahiri's writing for its flow and insight, but I wish her stories weren't all so sad. ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 23, 2015 |
clean, unpretentious writing. the strongest stories are the title story and "hell-heaven" --perhaps because these focus on the immigrant Bengali parents in addition to their 2nd gen children. both stories are perfectly paced and compelling in their own, quiet way and I can see them being anthologized.

part 2 ("Hema and Kaushik") is much weaker than part 1. Kaushik is an unsympathetic little shithead and Hema's presence barely registers.

the stories get a little repetitive-- they all feature characters who work in academia and who went to liberal arts schools like Swarthmore. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there's no need to say the same thing using three stories.

3.5 stars, but I'm rounding down because part 2 dragged on forever. ( )
  megantron | Jan 2, 2015 |
In this collection of short stories, Lahiri portrays what it is like with cultures collide, especially in the department of love. I enjoyed reading this book. I think she did a good job exposing some of the emotions that are affected through this quick tales. ( )
  Anietzerck | Dec 27, 2014 |
Absolutely fantastic is so many ways. Each story an absolute gem. In Interpreter of Maladies, there were some lighter stories, these were all serious but that only added to the collection. The final triology was esp. well done and I finally put it down and just absorbed for a while. Best book I've read in a while.
1 vote amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
Another great collection of short stories from the author of Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies. Some of them were developed better than others and some characters a little on the flat side, but the language and sentiment won out in the end. ( )
  emilyingreen | May 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
There is much cultural news in these precisely observed studies of modern-day Bengali-Americans — many of them Ivy-league strivers ensconced in prosperous suburbs who can’t quite overcome the tug of traditions nurtured in Calcutta. With quiet artistry and tender sympathy, Lahiri creates an impressive range of vivid characters — young and old, male and female, self-knowing and self-deluding — in engrossing stories that replenish the classic themes of domestic realism: loneliness, estrangement and family discord.
added by aksanil | editThe New York Times (Mar 12, 2008)
 
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Epigraph
"Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth."

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Customs House
Dedication
For my parents and for my sister

Vintage 2009 edition: For Octavio, for Noor
First words
After her mother's death, Ruma's father retired from the pharmaceutical company where he had worked for many decades and began traveling in Europe, a continent he'd never seen.
Quotations
…I gathered from my parents’ talk that it was regarded as a wavering, a weakness. “They should have known its impossible to go back,” they said to their friends, condemning your parents for having failed at both ends. We had stuck it out as immigrants while you had fled; had we been the ones to go back to India, my parents seemed to suggest, we would have stuck it out there as well.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307265730, Hardcover)

From the internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight stories—longer and more emotionally complex than any she has yet written—that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers.

In the stunning title story, Ruma, a young mother in a new city, is visited by her father, who carefully tends the earth of her garden, where he and his grandson form a special bond. But he’s harboring a secret from his daughter, a love affair he’s keeping all to himself. In “A Choice of Accommodations,” a husband’s attempt to turn an old friend’s wedding into a romantic getaway weekend with his wife takes a dark, revealing turn as the party lasts deep into the night. In “Only Goodness,” a sister eager to give her younger brother the perfect childhood she never had is overwhelmed by guilt, anguish, and anger when his alcoholism threatens her family. And in “Hema and Kaushik,” a trio of linked stories—a luminous, intensely compelling elegy of life, death, love, and fate—we follow the lives of a girl and boy who, one winter, share a house in Massachusetts. They travel from innocence to experience on separate, sometimes painful paths, until destiny brings them together again years later in Rome.

Unaccustomed Earth is rich with Jhumpa Lahiri’s signature gifts: exquisite prose, emotional wisdom, and subtle renderings of the most intricate workings of the heart and mind. It is a masterful, dazzling work of a writer at the peak of her powers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Exploring the secrets and complexities lying at the heart of family life and relationships, a collection of eight stories includes the title work, about a young mother in a new city whose father tends her garden while hiding a secret love affair.

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