These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.
The gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children "and that separates the children from India "remains Lahiri's subject for this follow-up to Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. In this set of eight stories, the results are again stunning. In the title story, Brooklyn-to-Seattle transplant Ruma frets about a presumed obligation to bring her widower father into her home, a stressful decision taken out of her hands by his unexpected independence. The alcoholism of Rahul is described by his elder sister, Sudha; her disappointment and bewilderment pack a particularly powerful punch. And in the loosely linked trio of stories closing the collection, the lives of Hema and Kaushik intersect over the years, first in 1974 when she is six and he is nine; then a few years later when, at 13, she swoons at the now-handsome 16-year-old teen's reappearance; and again in Italy, when she is a 37-year-old academic about to enter an arranged marriage, and he is a 40-year-old photojournalist. An inchoate grief for mothers lost at different stages of life enters many tales and, as the book progresses, takes on enormous resonance. Lahiri's stories of exile, identity, disappointment and maturation evince a spare and subtle mastery that has few contemporary equals.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Lahiri at her best
I'm not a great fan of short stories. Mainly for the reason that as soon as I really get into them, they are over. I always get the feeling like I want more somehow. Not so with this collection. Each story is written so well, and each character so thoroughly developed, I felt nothing was lacking. I was "novel satisfied" when I finished reading her stories. But the standout for me were the "Hema and Kaushik" trilogy; her best work in my opinion. Lahiri imbues these three stories with emotions that I have rarely been made to feel while reading fiction. Expertly sentimental without being maudlin, the trio of stories pulled me in from the start and would not allow me to put the book down till I was finished. Unaccustomed Earth gave me the type of book hangover that wouldn't allow me to even think of starting another book for quite some time. Instead, I went back, re-read, and highlighted passages just for the sheer pleasure of being back in the moment. I love this book and if you read it, you'll know exactly why I do.
100 Words or Less
I could not drag myself past page 50. Every page seemed so leaden, with the convenience of plot the main drive, rather than anything real or interesting.
I believe that this sort of storyline of hidden family secrets and immigrant experience has been drained of all originality. These stories aren’t bad, they're just not new. And that doesn’t keep me reading.
Each story evokes such feeling. Love her work.