Digging To America
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Digging To America

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  13,564 ratings  ·  1,636 reviews

In what is perhaps her richest and most deeply searching novel, Anne Tyler gives us a story about what it is to be an American, and about Maryam Yazdan, who after
Thirty-five 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 Ameri

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Hardcover
Published May 4th 2006 by Chatto & Windus (first published 2006)
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Caroline
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
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...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...more
Michelle Magalong
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
Natalie
Sep 14, 2007 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Susan Wood
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...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
Mara
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...more
Judy
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...more
Kelli
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...more
Ange
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
“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,...more
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...more
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Gerald
Apr 02, 2008 Gerald rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Jill
Nov 24, 2007 Jill rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Mata
a book about two families who each adopt baby girls from Korea. She weaves all these characters together that are associated with the girls, it's facsinating to see how each character develops after the arrival of the girls, and how the girls fill voids in everyone's life. Highly recommend this book.
Anjali
I have to admit I had never heard of this book until I read about it on JoV’s blog. JoV hosted a giveaway on her blog and I was one of the lucky winners. I chose the popular Random Acts of Heroic Love, but she was generous enough to send me a copy of Digging to America along with my chosen book. If not for JoV, I would have never discovered this wonderful book.

This book is about two Korean babies who are adopted by two different families based in America. While Jin-Ho is adopted by an American f...more
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...more
Bojan Gacic
Be it either an erroneous habit, or a method of intellectual self-protection, the truth is that all of us will draw comparison between the author's book, and the work which we have previously encountered. I'm no exception- comparing and contrasting remains a significant aspect of my reading experience. The key is to develop a standard balanced between high expectatios and a sense of criticism. Hey, everyone's a critic these days, especially when it comes to books and their merit of being time-co...more
Kayefex
Anne Tyler is a Pulitzer-prize winning novelist perhaps best known for The Accidental Tourist, which was made into a movie starring Bill Hurt and Geena Davis in the late 80s. The book, as usual, is vastly superior. In this case, that's saying a lot, as the movie is pretty superior, too. (Interestingly enough, this is not the book for which she was awarded the Pulitzer.)

Digging to America (Knopf, 2006) is Anne Tyler's 17th novel. It is about two families who meet by chance at the Baltimore airpor...more
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...more
Kathy
Once again, I was captivated by Anne Tyler's ability to create unusual and thought-provoking characters. What I thought would be a story of adopted children from foreign coutries, turned into a story of webs between characters and the cultures they came from, to the "tango" of becoming an American. Even though the theme of Americanization was beneath it all, the reader becomes involved in each of the character's lives, as well as their individualities.

My favorite characters were Maryam, who see...more
Frances
I can't remember an Anne Tyler novel I haven't enjoyed. I like the way she develops her characters and the family relationships.

Two families, the Yazdans and the Donaldsons, connect when they meet the Korean babies they're adopting at the airport in the days before September 11, 2001, when a festive greeting party could gather at the gate. The story is narrated by different voices. Maryam, an Iranian-American woman, who is the grandmother of one of the little girls, begins and ends the story, bu...more
Hoosier
Two babies from Korea brought together two families--one from the United States and the other from Iran. In Digging to America, Anne Tyler tells the story of how two very different families became close friends to the point of becoming dependent on each other. It is interesting to follow the families adjusting to being parents/grandparents to adopted children, watch how the Iranian family brings their customs to American society, and see how much of the Korean girls' heritage should be retained....more
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Should Maryam have married Dave? 5 38 Sep 11, 2013 07:47AM  
Jin-Ho & Susan are in college, what do you think they'd say about their upbringing? 2 19 Aug 11, 2011 12:15AM  
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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 and...more
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