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Unaccustomed Earth

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  65,108 Ratings  ·  6,810 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Vintage
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Feb 22, 2016 Molly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories, brilliant
The title of Lahiri’s latest book—Unaccustomed Earth—refers to the first story in this collection but also to a motif dominating all of the stories: tales about a world unaccustomed to the shifts and changes taking place on its surface, a world uncomfortable with the destruction and loss brought on by hurricanes and tsunamis, unfamiliar with modern diseases and traumas, and unsure about the class and cultural conflicts that dominate relationships in the lives of Lahiri’s characters. The earth th ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Sonal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I progressed through the first four stories, I became more and more angry. I couldn't understand why Lahiri would put out another book that was almost identical to to her first. She seemed to have retreated even further into her "safe space", writing only about Bengali Americans who study at ivy league schools, have well educated albeit maladjusted parents and struggle with redefining relationships after relocation. I expected a lot more when I read the title and its reference to Nathaniel Ha ...more
These eight short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri are quiet, penetrating, and meticulously written. The first five stories are distinct, while the last three are interrelated. Lahiri's prose seems so clean and precise that it is very easy to turn page after page despite the fact that her stories are not really plot-driven. Rather, each story delves into the psyche of each character with such skill that the reader can't help but feel extremely intimate with each one, whether male or female, likable or o ...more
Feb 10, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, short-stories
I have often stated that I do not enjoy short stories, but although this is designated as such, it oversimplifies the content of this book. With understated elegance, Lahiri has drawn in the reader to become immersed in tales of families, lovers and friends. She has the unique ability to simply, but fascinatingly communicate the features of the characters' behaviors, thoughts and emotions. In addition, she is able to express such dimensions so wellthat I felt I had become acquainted with these p ...more
Glenn Sumi
Feb 11, 2016 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Eight short stories of remarkable depth, richness and resonance. Part one consists of five stand-alone stories, some of which have the density of novellas; part two consists of three stories that chronicle several decades in the lives of two characters whose lives have been fatefully intertwined.

Lahiri's protagonists might all be Bengalis from India taking root in America and then often abroad, but their secrets, hopes and dreams are universal. The stories' endings are particularly powerful, ful
Jun 19, 2008 Ian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A real disappointment after her first two books. Doing away with both the emotional gut-punches of displacement and desperation found in "Interpreter of Maladies" and the elegiac generational sweep of "The Namesake," Lahiri in "Unaccustomed Earth" zeroes in on the least interesting dimension of her usual subjects: the interior monologues of fully assimilated, second-generation Indian-Americans who are ungratefully dissatisfied with their lives of privilege. Her formerly melancholic insight and p ...more
Jul 13, 2008 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps a new term needs to be used for short stories such as these. Each one is jam-packed with details that never bog down; each one is as dense and rich as a novel. The writing never falters; it is always smooth, flowing and self-assured.

Of course the last 3 stories could be a novella, and we are lucky not to have to buy a separate book to experience them.

Wonderful characters, wonderful stories, wonderful writing.
Apr 25, 2008 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I read Lahiri's first collection of stories, "Interpreter of Maladies," when it was published some years ago, I've had a hard time figuring out just why I find her fiction so incredibly appealing and moving and memorable. Her writing style isn't particularly innovative, and she sticks to a fairly narrow set of themes: the impact of immigration on those who immigrate and their children, generally viewed through the experiences of Indians who move to the U.S., specifically New England. ...more
Jan 02, 2011 Foodie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that I was awaiting this book for many months and started reading it with a preconceived notion that the literary journey I was about to embark upon was one of immense finesse and depth. Some might argue that this mindset might cast a cloak on the negative qualities of the novel thereby making the stories more appealing. I've thought about this and beg to differ. Expectations of this height are hard to live by and many a (famous) novel have fallen short. Unaccustomed Earth did no ...more
Samir Rawas Sarayji
This won't be a usual review but more of a personal reflection. The reason is that I recently read some reviews and comments of a GR friend ( Aubrey ) who recently read 'The Namesake' by Lahiri and found it to be nothing special and she cited some pretty good reasons to support her case. Then I thought about the two books of Lahiri that I have - both short story collections - and why I had rated them 5 stars each. This is what happens when you feel in sync with such GR friends that they can make ...more
i think that, as short story collections go, this one is up there with the great masterpieces -- flannery o'connor, hawthorne, raymond carver, nadine gordimer, alice munro (the writers who come to mind are the ones who straightforwardly explore the torments of the human heart). the most extraordinary feeling i have about it is that i glided from story to story without having much of a sense of interruption. the stories flow into each other, having to do with people who are different (in age, gen ...more
Rajat Ubhaykar
Jul 12, 2015 Rajat Ubhaykar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story
It's been some time since I read Unaccustomed Earth. I read it as an impressionable teenager and many of the nuanced impressions that were stamped upon my mind by this book have been more or less washed away by the heavy downpour of classics that has kissed my bookshelf since.

All I can glean out of the dusty recesses of my memory about this excellent collection of Indo-nostalgic short stories is feeling an ephemeral sense of loss. I remember it leaving me in the throes of a synthesized lonelines
Dec 04, 2013 alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to alex by: alyse
lahiri's writing style is beautiful. while someone once described it as "relentless detail," i like to think of it otherwise. that said, there was something nagging me while reading it that i could neither shake nor put my finger on. then i figured it out. there are two things that bothered me about this book. 1) lahiri seems to be almost obsessed with elite private universities. not a story goes by that doesn't mention harvard, mit, bryn mawr, swarthmore, etc. it's excessive. according to wikip ...more
Ron Nie
Feb 27, 2015 Ron Nie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really really love Lahiri's writing. It's so elegant and emotive, but never overwrought. The story "Hell-Heaven" about a married mother who falls in love with a new immigrant just slammed me to the ground. I was so fascinated by the transnational aesthetics. The story is written like it's out of the New Yorker (and Lahiri does have a close relationship with that magazine) but the last scene is like Spivak got hold of an Edward Hopper painting. The mother is in her domestic, All American backya ...more
Jun 04, 2008 Jean rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jean by: Popular reviews
Shelves: gave-up
I just never really get into her books...they seem heavy, tedious and plodding to me. After a few hundred pages, I returned this new one to the library. I guess I am just not a fan of this writer. I know she is very popular and you would think I would relate to the culture, but...I'm just not into it. I thought the short stories were predictable and trite to tell the truth.
b00k r3vi3ws
After Interpreter of Maladies, this is the second Jhumpa Lahiri book that I have picked up. Yes, at the risk of raising eyebrows from one and many, I have to admit that I haven’t read The Namesake yet.

The first story in the book is ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ and I was lost in this book right from the first page and there’s no use in pretending otherwise. The common theme in all these stories is that they narrate about the NRI lives and their everyday nuisance. Be it a mother daughter bonding, or the r
Lahiri is a treasure. I picked up this collection of short stories because I loved her previous book, The Namesake. These stories all involve Indian families who have moved to the United States and are struggling to adjust. Often there's tension with their children, who only want to fit in with Americans.

I couldn't pick a favorite story in this collection -- they all meant something special to me. I hope you find something in them, too.
Jun 14, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I never wrote a review on this before. It's terrific!!!

I was comparing books with a new friend - whom I just connected with- and came to this book -

It deserved the Pulitzer in my opinion!!!
Kris Kipling
To return to my lecturing days: I automatically gave low marks when a student used the dreadful phrase "sincere and simple" - "Flaubert writes with a style which is always simple and sincere" - under the impression that this was the greatest compliment payable to prose or poetry. When I struck the phrase out, which I did with such rage in my pencil that it ripped the paper, the student complained that this was what teachers had always taught him: "Art is simple, art is sincere." Someday I must t ...more
Having just finished Unaccustomed Earth, I have to say I thought it was fantastic how Lahiri manages to catch the edge of human interactions--all that we don't say to each other throughout our lives. I really was close to tears at the end of the final story. This is my first experience with her writing other than reading one story. That previous story gave me a glimpse of her skill but now I have the full blown view of a writer who appears to be at a peak of ability.

This has broadened my view of
May 08, 2008 dyh_nyc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To begin, I must disclose that I am a huge Jhumpa Lahiri fan. To me, she is one of the only authors who comes even close to articulating my experience as a child born and raised in the U.S. by immigrant parents, constantly straddling two worlds. I really enjoyed this book -- not nearly as much as I adored "The Namesake" (one of my all-time favorite books!), but more than her collection of short stories, "The Interpreter of Maladies."

This book is a collection of short stories. The first half is c
Dixie Diamond
I kind of liked this. The writing is good but the pace of the stories is v e r y s l o w . . . it seems to take ages to get to the ending. This would be OK except that the endings are really not that astounding; you're left with less of an "Oh, my God" feeling than a "well, duh; what did she expect?" one. The bodies of the stories would have been more in proportion to the ends if the writer had not worked so hard to draw them out. They end up feeling overwritten, and all for nothing.

One also get
Another wonderful book by Lahiri. This is a book of short stories where each story tells about a Bengali family and how they are assimilating to the American way of life. Which is pretty typical of a Lahiri book. But, writers are always told to write what you know. I'm always amazed at how much detail and emotion that she can get into a short story. Getting the details of family life for one Bengali family for their entire lives.

I think she does best with her short story collections. This is he
Ben Babcock
I went into this book not knowing what to expect, and I loved it. Jhumpa Lahiri creates timeless families that straddle the cultural divide between America and India. She captures the conflict of growing up as one tries to balance one's parent's wishes with the influence of one's heritage and the culture of one's surroundings.

Of the first part of the book, I loved "Unaccustomed Earth", "Hell-Heaven", and "Only Goodness." The other two stories were great, but those three are my favourite--particu
Apr 25, 2008 Leanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After weeks of waiting anxiously, of reading about how good the book is, I finally got my hands on Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth.

The beauty of Lahiri’s writing is in the ordinariness of it. She has an elegant style but does nothing to draw undue attention to the writing itself; she employs no tricks that distract from her narrative. The stories are also about ordinary topics, about regular people. It is in the simplicity of the scenarios that universal truths resound.

“Unaccustomed Earth,” t
There are totally eight short stories, divided into five in part one and 3 in part two. Each one is decently paced and slowly warms up our senses to the emotions. Every time I completed a story, I wondered if that was the best story of the collection. They get better and better, and the second part with all the three stories interconnected, and yet stand separated was the best.

I loved Ms. Lahiri’s Lowland, and her style gets better with short stories. It is the best book that I have read this y
Jul 30, 2013 Asha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Short-Story Readers
Recommended to Asha by: Other Lahiri Books
Unaccustomed Earth is Jhumpa Lahiri's yet another collection of most dazzling short-stories of all times making it evident the umpteenth time the kind of prodigious skills she portrays with her art of putting together in words the distressed hearts and confused minds of her characters that are struggling in unknown lands, striving to accept outlandish ways while clutching the bag of their traditional ways close to their hearts and ending up in those neverlands where they find themselves still sl ...more
Dec 04, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Lahiri's works. Every word, every image.
Yet, when I read Goodreads Reviews written by Bengali
(? maybe, maybe not) readers, I can understand their criticisms. There does seem to be a formula. The issue of conflict in 1st generation parents with their Westernized children, the fact that almost all of these characters have attended the very best Ivy League and 1st tier universities in the US and have performed exceptionally. (no mention of summer jobs, no mention of student loans o
Aug 24, 2012 Pragya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short-stories lovers
Well, let me tell you first offs, I'm not a big fan of short stories. I was, once upon a time, but not anymore. I appreciate novels more now. You think I should have known this was a short stories book, right? Wrong! How was I supposed to know that with my habit of diving into a book without knowing a thing beforehand? No, I don't read the above summary before reading the book. I know, I know, I'm peculiar that way.

Well then, what happened when I finished reading the first story and went to the
Tanya Gold
Jan 04, 2008 Tanya Gold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel completely gutted and need to go back and read this again.

Lahiri always leaves me feeling too emotional for my own good and I love it. She takes you to this place of discomfort and displacement within relationships with other people and relationships with culture.

The short stories in the first half of the book leave me wanting more of the characters lives. I simultaneously devoured them and didn't want them to end. They were as good, if not better than her previous published short stori
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Nilanjana Sudeshna "Jhumpa" Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age.

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple d
More about Jhumpa Lahiri...

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“He owned an expensive camera that required thought before you pressed the shutter, and I quickly became his favorite subject, round-faced, missing teeth, my thick bangs in need of a trim. They are still the pictures of myself I like best, for they convey that confidence of youth I no longer possess, especially in front of a camera.” 122 likes
“And wasn't it terrible, how much he looked forward to those moments, so much so that sometimes even a ride by himself on the subway was the best part of the day? Wasn't it terrible that after all the work one put into finding a person to spend one's life with, after making a family with that person, even in spite of missing that person...that solitude was what one relished the most, the only thing that, even in fleeting, diminished doses, kept one sane?” 57 likes
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