Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review: Unaccustomed Earth (Lahiri)

Title: Unaccustomed Earth
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre: Adult fiction--short stories
Pages: 333
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: POC, South Asian Authors
FTC Disclosure: I either bought this one myself or received it as a gift, I don't remember which
Summary (from the back of the book): 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 of family life. Unaccustomed Earth renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.

Review: I did not read Namesake, but saw and loved the movie so when I started hearing about Unaccustomed Earth from bloggers I knew I wanted to try it. Also, short stories worked well for me this week with the craziness at work. Somehow reading stories that lasted 60 pages seemed more manageable than one long novel. Is that strange?

These stories are beautifully written. They flow and draw the reader in with sites, smells, and emotions. My favorite story is the first one in the book, the one that shares the title of the book. In this story Ruma and her four-year-old son are home while Adam, Ruma's husband, is away on business. Her father comes for a visit. Will it go well? Should she invite him to move in with her and her family (her mother has recently died)? The relationship between Ruma and her dad is one that is revealed slowly during the story, with Ruma learning more about her dad through his interactions with his grandson. I loved the way her dad worked on her garden, was silently moving on with his life, and didn't want to be a burden.

All the stories in this book are thoughtful. As I read I felt that the author chose each word carefully, weighing how each one would help the story progress.

9 comments:

Stephanie said...

I am usually not in the mood for short stories, plus Namesake wasn't my favorite, so I haven't picked this one up yet but I do want to at some point.

Alyce said...

I really enjoyed this one too, and I don't normally like short stories.

Amused said...

I loved Namesake so I keep meaning to read this one!

Amanda said...

I'm glad to hear this is good. Have you read her other collection?

Helen's Book Blog said...

Stephanie--sounds like this book isn't the right one for you!

Alyce--I don't usually like short stories either, but this one seemed to be the right one at the time

Amused--The stories have a similar feel to Namesake in that they center on relationships and family

Amanda--I haven't read her other collections, should I?

Aths said...

I loved Jhumpa Lahiri's another short story collection - Interpreter of Maladies, so I'm curious to try this one too!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--I'll add Interpreter of Maladies to the ever-growing TBR list!

Connolly-Ahern (Col Reads) said...

Loved this review, Helen. I love short stories for hectic weeks and plane rides -- I will definitely add this to my list.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Connolly-Ahern--It never occurred to me to get short stories for a plane trip! What an awesome idea. Perfect for when you'll get interrupted all the time.