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Unaccustomed Earth (2008)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8511921,600 (4.14)359
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.
  1. 100
    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 by Susan Choi (tangentialine)
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» See also 359 mentions

English (182)  Spanish (4)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (192)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
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I wish I had written this soon after I finished it. I remember bits and pieces now but not the overall story. For it is a story, told in small stories, in short stories. Each of the eight stories features the same characters, not always from the same point of view.

The main character comes from an Indian family, Bengali, but grew up in the United States. When she visits India it is usually not with any excitement. She is perhaps too American to love it. We are treated to different places and times, not chronological and it doesn't matter, in Ruma's life. We dip into the lives of others in her family.

I remember being absorbed by it all yet I remember not enough. I liked it, I liked that the writing is straightforward and yet beautiful.

( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
if you are Bengali/American it is truly amazing, even a little disturbing (in a good way that makes you reflect on your life). i would imagine that just about everyone can relate to many of the themes. ( )
  aabtzu | May 18, 2020 |
Superb collection of long-ish short stories. That was a damn fine read. ( )
  Sonya_W | Feb 5, 2020 |
Great collection of short stories -- I really like the last one. This was a very easy read and makes me want to check out her other stuff now. ( )
  rlsova | Oct 29, 2019 |
I like this author’s writing style. Her prose is simple yet rich in detail. She has a way of revealing the inner most of her characters simply and effectively. ( )
  janismack | Aug 15, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (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
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For my parents and for my sister

Vintage 2009 edition: For Octavio, for Noor
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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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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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