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Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Unaccustomed Earth (2008)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,0351721,264 (4.14)332
  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
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    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (chrisharpe)
  6. 00
    Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays by Eula Biss (Maiasaura)
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    A Person of Interest: A Novel by Susan Choi (tangentialine)
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» See also 332 mentions

English (164)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (172)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
Lahiri once again focuses on the immigrant experience, specifically Bengalis living in New England or the Middle Atlantic states. Her stories are perfect snapshots of people’s lives. They are unique to their experience, yet universal in their reactions to what happens to them. Therefore, the reader, even though not of the same ethnic group, can easily identify with her characters. Who hasn’t suffered the loss of a loved one? Or been disappointed in love? Or questioned a career choice (or major field of study)? That she is able to speak so directly to her readers, transcending our differences, is a measure of her gift. Her writing is elegant, emotional, haunting, profound, distressing and beautiful.

Sarita Choudhury and Ajay Naidu do a great job of reading these short stories for the audio book format. Their alternate performance follows Lahiri’s plan is using a female or a male narrator. I never had any trouble keeping the characters straight. This alternating voice was particularly helpful in the last three stories, which are linked, following two characters through several decades of their infrequently connected lives. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 2, 2016 |
In this collection of short stories, the author parts the veil, allowing the reader a glimpse into the lives of the families whose stories she tells. The first five stories each focus on a different person, while the final three are snapshots from different portions of one life as told by two people.

The thread that seems to connect them eight is a sense of loss both in home but sometimes in death, a marriage falling apart, a relationship disintegrating. The loss of place, a knowing where your feet belong in this world is the more subtle, but more powerful element of the two. All of the characters have at some point left behind their Indian roots for a more prosperous life in the United States, yet they always remain off-balance, as do their children who can never be either Indian or American. I really appreciated how the author handled this aspect of her stories. As I read I never lost that sense of being off-kilter. The author's ability to maintain this balancing act throughout the entire collection was singularly impressive.

I was equally impressed with the gentleness of the stories. The author painted a moving portrait of the everyday and greater loses we all exprince daily, yet she was never heavy-handed or maudlin about it. It is in this that I was surprisingly reminded of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, though the two books couldn't be more different stylistically.

Like most short story collections I was left wanting more. However, it is that desire for more that will certainly drive me to read more by Lahiri. I think this is a very good example of a short story colection, that even those who do not typically enjoy the format would like. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
A collection of 8 stories all involving people of Indian descent who are living in the U.S. I just didn't see what the point to most of the stories was. The last three stories are linked but were very depressing. I just couldn't get interested in any of these stories. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
Especially the title story, which is a masterpiece. ( )
  TangledWing | Jan 3, 2016 |
exceptional. this is the my first Lahiri book, and I'm dying to read more. masterful storytelling - modern, engaging, relevant. definitely going to purchase this for what i imagine will be plenty of re-readings. ( )
  cyrenitis | Dec 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 164 (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.

» see all 5 descriptions

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