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Digging to America

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,599 Ratings  ·  1,807 Reviews
Anne Tyler’s richest, most deeply searching novel–a story about what it is to be an American, and about Iranian-born Maryam Yazdan, who, after 35 years in this country, must finally come to terms with her “outsiderness.”

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport – the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazda
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 28th 2007 by Anchor Canada (first published 2006)
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Caroline
May 14, 2007 Caroline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I'm a HUGE Anne Tyler fan. To my mind, she can do no wrong. Reading one of her books is like curling up on the couch in a baggy cashmere sweater. That said, this is definitely not one of her strongest. She doesn't develop the characters in any particularly complex way and it's really hard to step into their shoes. Usually her portrayals of families are so hauntingly real, it's almost uncomfortable to read about them, but here it read like the "setting the scene" for a family drama ...more
Tressa
Jul 26, 2007 Tressa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I must admit that the only thing keeping me out of the newspaper in yet another road rage story are the audio books I download or check out from the library. Listening to audio books while fighting rush hour traffic on 1-65 is my equivalent of counting to ten.

Anyone remember the actress Blair Brown from The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, circa 1987? Ah, my dependable Saturday night date. What a sweetheart. Anyway, I just finished listenting to the audio book Digging to America and I must say tha
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Jan Rice

As I was reading this book, even when well into it, when almost done and racing to the end, I came to a section that made me judge it as uneven.

Then I finished. For a minute I just sat there. Then I burst into sobs.

I had just been complaining the other day that I couldn't understand catharsis from classic tragedy, but this is different. What is it about Anne Tyler's books?

It's been a while since I've read one. The Amateur Marriage hit me pretty hard.

In this book, two families who are both adopt
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Michelle Magalong
Apr 21, 2008 Michelle Magalong rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What I anticipated versus what actually unfolded in this book were quite different. I was bored halfway through but wanted to endure the last half to find out what the ending would be. When I got to the very last page, I couldn't help but say "that's it?!" An uneventful ending to say the very least. The character development was quite unpolished and the plot was-- well, I guess I never found the main one, just a bunch of sub-plots that never fully became anything substantial or resounding. Quite ...more
Erin
I'M DOING THAT WEIRD THING AGAIN.

It occurs more regularly at those points in life when your bookshelf is particularly bare. I should certainly know, because right now half my books are trying to flatten out a bunch of AMAZING (and yet equally horrible) 90's movie posters I found at a garage sale last month. I'm thinking about wallpapering our living room with the likes of "Heat", "Weird Creatures", "Dante's Peak", and, of course, my favorite, "Jingle All the Way" (never actually saw it, mind you
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Susan Wood
Apr 15, 2008 Susan Wood rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Currently reading for a local book club. I would not have chosen this book myself based on the first several pages. It's an easy read, with too many mundane details. I find myself skimming over a lot of the text and that is not what I find an enjoyable. Nonetheless, some of the characters are interesting... we'll see where it goes.

Update: I only made it half way through and won't finish it. The book club gave this story a unanimous thumbs down due to sketchy, somewhat schizophrenic, character de
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Natalie
Sep 14, 2007 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book clubs, mothers
I really enjoyed this book! I found myself telling people about it over the week or so that I read it. I found it really fascinating -- this look at Americans and "foreigners" -- seen through this tale of two very different families who are brought together by the adoption of Korean baby girls. I loved how different the two families were -- heritage, parenting approaches, personality, etc. I could appreciate the two new mothers and their varied feelings. I could relate to both Bitsy and Ziba, as ...more
Elaine
In no way socks-or-mind blowing, but still has a quiet resonance -- it's essentially a love story between an elderly Iranian woman who's immigrated to the States and an elderly American man. Tyler works into this her usual flair for dialogue, layers in cultural nuances, dissonances, within both the Iranian and American communities, especially pertinent after Sept. 11, and sets it against the backdrop of the adoption of two Korean girls by two different families (one Iranian, of course, and the o ...more
Elham Ghafarzadeh
مهاجرت، غربت، فرهنگ، زبان، تنهایی، خانواده و زندگی.. همه این موارد در این کتاب بارها و بارها از فکر تک تک شخصیت ها میگذرد.. فکر کردنی که ناگزیر به انجام آن هستید.
بارها خودم را به جای مریم تصور کردم و احساس کردم اگر روندِ زندگیم اینگونه می شد حتما زنِ میانسالی همچون مریم می شدم.. با همان خصوصیات و ضرافت ها.. حتی اندکی هم برای اتفاقِ در پایانِ کتاب ذوق و شوق داشتم آنقدر که مریم بودم..
حداقل برایِ من، داستان خیلی روندِ تکراری و قابل پیش بینی ای داشت، شاید برای آمریکایی ها رمانی راجع به یک خانواده ا
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Mara
Feb 12, 2009 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, family, adoption
The title of this book comes from this question: if children in the U.S. dig a hole to China, are children in China digging to America? This seems to be a metaphor for the question of whether perhaps we're all, even the most American-seeming American, digging to America, or trying to figure out what it means to be American.

When the Donaldson (American through-and-through) and the Yazdans (Iranian-American) adopt baby girls from Korea on the same day, the families become the best of friends. It i
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Judy
Feb 08, 2008 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm always amazed how Ann Tyler can write such riveting stories where not all that much happens. It's all about the characters and "Digging To America" is no exception.

It follows the intertwined lives of two couples who meet at the Baltimore Airport when picking up their adopted Korean daughters. Bitsy and Brad are white upper-class Americans, while Sami and Ziba are Iranian-Americans. Their friendship spans their daughters' childhood.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the insight about i
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Gerald
Apr 02, 2008 Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hard-headed people who need to lighten up
I've read all of Anne Tyler's books, many of them more than once. What never ceases to amaze me is how much emotion there is between the lines. The proposal scene will break your heart. I confess after studying it that I still don't quite understand how its emotional impact is achieved. Understated, certainly. Unexpected, yes. Organic because nothing else could have happened here.

Ms. Tyler loves every one of her characters dearly. There are no ugly souls in her books, just ordinary people who ma
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Sandra
Nov 01, 2014 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
Il romanzo inizia con l'arrivo di due bimbe coreane adottate da due famiglie, una americana, l'altra di origini iraniane. Da questo incontro nasce l'amicizia tra i due clan. Da lì il romanzo si snoda tra dialoghi ricchi di comicità, ricorrenze, feste di compleanni e anniversari più o meno sentiti e poco condivisi, imbarazzi familiari derivanti da radici culturali così diverse come quelle mediorientali e quelle degli americani, “maniaci della logica”. In mezzo ci sono nuove adozioni (arriva una s ...more
Kelli
Jul 22, 2012 Kelli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this read. For light fiction Ann Tyler is my favorite choice. She throws out a snapshot of characters that are believable. This one explores a direction that I have not read from her before. Immigration and what it means to be American. I think that I may have found this more meaningful than some readers because I have read a few Iranian authors. The historical events referenced in this book offer little context and explanation but that is OK. With Tyler, a story is about the ch ...more
Chimera
is novel Anne Tyler explores the American culture and what it means to be American. But more than that, she looks at how people from different cultural backgrounds can intermingle and reject each other at the same time. How a person can live in a country for more than 30 years, adopt its nationality and yet never really integrate. And by which process someone who has grown and lived in several cultures might build his own identity, torn between his origins, national culture and that of his frien ...more
Sharm Alagaratnam
This book seems to have been following me around for the past couple of years, sneaking up on me in airports and various 3-for-2 offers that I see in bookshops. About a month ago I started requesting books from the library that have either won or been on the shortlist for competitions in the past, such as the Booker and the Orange prizes. Anne Tyler's book made the 2007 Orange shortlist.

The plot itself is intriguing enough. Two American couples, one homey Baltimore and the other Iranian in flavo
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Maia
I'm not 1005 an Anne Tyler fan and at times I grow tired of her, find her overrated. But I did like this book, and found some parts of the storyline quite compelling.

Its basically a story about what constitutes an American today: how and/or why one becomes an American, and what sort of American that would be. In the story, two very different families--one 'Anglo' and one first and second generation Iranian immigrants, each adopt a baby girl from Korea. How the family members of each family grou
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Virginia
I fully expected to hate this book. I don't know why, but something about the subject matter (race relations, Korean adoptees, immigrants) annoyed me and I thought, "Here we go again. Another book meant to illustrate some point about race or adoption, or what-have-you and I will learn a moral or something."

But, unexpectedly, I enjoyed it entirely because of the characters. The saving character was definitely Maryam, the Iranian grandmother. Her thoughts I could most relate with (down to the ann
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Ange
Jan 27, 2012 Ange rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had a couple of Anne Tyler novels on my shelf for over 20 years. However, I have never been able to get past the first few pages. There is something about the writing that is incredibly dull. At first I thought "Digging to America" was going to be another unread Anne Tyler but I persisted through the first chapter (the point at which I have normally given up) and it began to improve. Like others, I thought some of the characters, particularly Bitsy, were awful. I also didn't like the chapte ...more
Lauren
Tyler creates an interesting story centering around two families who adopt children from Korea in the autumn of 1997. They meet at the airport on the "arrival day" and subsequently plan to meet on the day in the future to commemorate the children's arrival in America. The most interesting aspects of the book surround Maryam, the grandmother of one of the girls, an Iranian widow who struggles to find her place in America; and that of Dave, the American widower, who is the grandfather of the other ...more
Debbie
Aug 02, 2011 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“An American man, naïve and complacent and oblivious, convinced that his way was the only way and that he had every right to rearrange her life. She had melted the instant he said, “Come in,” even though she knew full well that inclusion was only a myth. And why? Because she had believed that she could make a difference in his life.”

I love a good character study and so inevitably I absolutely loved this book. This is a true testament to quality vs. quantity. Although it really is a short book,
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Michael
I appreciated this as my first experience with Tyler’s special voice and genius at portraying the rhythms and dynamics of American domestic life. The tale involves a comparison of two Baltimore families who adopt Korean toddler girls, one a “typical” American clan and the other second generation Iranians.

At the arrival of the babies at the airport, the cultural differences in response to the event set the stage for the rest of the book. Whereas the Donaldsons celebrate the arrival with a clan o
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
Do you remember as a child "digging to China"? This story, which takes place in Tyler's usual setting of Baltimore, is about immigrants, how and whether to keep the culture and traditions of the birth country. At one point, one of the children wonders whether children in China are Digging to America.

It is also a story of family. This time the families are adoptive parents, together with much extended family. Because both Korean children arrive on the same flight, and through that common event, t
...more
Cecilia
Aug 05, 2009 Cecilia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women's fiction readers
Shelves: favorites
I found Digging to America a sweet, compassionate tale of mothers and their love for families…their own families and the families around them. Starting off with the adoption of two Asian girls by two different Baltimore families, Tyler does a great job of combining cultural experiences with those of family and life experiences. Not only the Asian culture is touched upon in this book…one of the families who adopts a child is Iranian. Both adopting families mesh well, with cultural differences som ...more
Kate
Nov 28, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about Anne Tyler is that when you finish one book there will always be another waiting for you when you need it. I adore the way her books are about every day happenings but with her gentle take on things, I totally rate her as a great comfort read. Its lines like this one on page pg 206 that make me just go yep you are so right, she said "like most life-altering moments, it was disappointingly lacking in drama". Gold.

Digging for America is about two families living in Baltimore w
...more
Pat
Aug 15, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like most Anne Tyler books, this one has many levels. I think that there is a reason for the stereotypes she presents - most people do not leave their heritage when they immigrate. Perhaps total integration into America was not possible - nor desirable - for the Iranian family. I found it interesting that the American family retained the Korean name of their adopted baby (and insisted on her wearing tradition Korean garb), while the Iranian family changed their daughter's birth name to a very Am ...more
Stephen Gallup
Sep 05, 2015 Stephen Gallup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For many years Anne Tyler was among my very favorite authors. I cooled on her a while back when trying unsuccessfully to read The Amateur Marriage (just couldn't bear seeing the mess those characters made of their lives). But when browsing the library for my next audiobook I was glad to try this story about the cultural interface between Americans and immigrants.

Two families meet by chance in the arrivals area at the Baltimore airport. Bitsy and Brad are there to accept a Korean baby that they'
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Jill
Nov 24, 2007 Jill rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: boring people
The only reason I stayed with this book is because I had to. It was a snoozer. I have read Tyler before and although her books are not necessarily riveting portraits of family life, usually they are more real and affecting.

I've spoken to a few of the women from book club, and on the whole, they seem to agree--though a couple say they loved it. I'll try to contain my harsh criticism...

If I ever have insomnia, I will pull this out instead of hitting the Tylenol PMs.
Cathleen
Jan 06, 2009 Cathleen rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cathleen by: Jill P., Linda B.
I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. It's quieter, more subtle writing, but the layers of character are rich -- more so than one expects from the early stereotypes. I actually groaned at the conclusion, wanting more of the story, and it has been a long while since I've had that feeling for a book I didn't freely choose for myself.


audiobook note: perfect narration by Blair Brown

first read 5/08 (audio)
re-read 1/09
Chris
Mar 17, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oftentimes when I take a break from my "usual" murder mystery or YA, I miss them and wonder why I strayed. This book, however, didn't do that. I was taken with the story right from the beginning. Character-driven, this is the story of two families, both American, though the roots of one are Iranian. They are linked by the adoption of two baby girls from Korea, meeting at the Baltimore Airport when both were brought to the US. This is the story of personalities; how we understand - or don't under ...more
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts a ...more
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“Isn’t it odd,” Maryam said. “Just like that, a completely unknown person is a part of their family forever. Well, of course that’s true of a birth child, too, but … I don’t know, this seems more astonishing.” “To me, both are astonishing,” Dave said. “I remember before Bitsy was born, I used to worry she might not be compatible with the two of us. I told Connie, ‘Look at how long we took deciding whom we’d marry, but this baby’s waltzing in out of nowhere, not so much as a background check or a personality quiz. What if it turns out we don’t have any shared interests?’ ” 0 likes
“You belong,” he told her. “You belong just as much as I do, or, who, or Bitsy or … It’s just like Christmas. We all think the others belong more.” 0 likes
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