dyh_nyc's Reviews > Unaccustomed Earth

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
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May 08, 08

Read in May, 2008

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 comprised of five short stories, the second half consists of three additional stories focusing on two characters. For those of you with old issues of the New Yorker around, three of these stories were published awhile back in that magazine.

As with Lahiri's earlier pieces, my favorite aspect of her storytelling is her eye for detail. Her descriptions of everything ranging from a boy's coat a young girl is forced to wear by her frugal parents, to buttery and slightly coconutty tea biscuits evokes strong images in my mind, images that help create vivid characters in your mind.

I found that these stories left me feeling a sad, yet subtle sense of loss. I particularly related to the loss described in a few of the stories in terms of the lead characters' relationship with their parents. Perhaps it's because they were in situations I could relate to, but have difficulty articulating --- that intense feeling of love and connectedness to your parents, yet a dual sense of space and silence that fills that relationship between parent and child in adulthood.

Ultimately, I found this book to be a collection of beautifully written, melancholy stories. Nothing monumental happens to the characters in this book, but the stories still left me contemplating the complexities of relationships --- between partners, child and parent, brother and sister. Worth the read, in my opinion.
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message 1: by Justin (new)

Justin I didn't know she had a new book! I've been a huge fan of hers since she wrote Interpreter of Maladies. I'm going to jot this one down. Hope you're well.


dyh_nyc i am doing well, thanks! if you're already a fan of hers, you definitely need to check out this book. another collection of beautiful stories --- every day after and before work, i could hardly wait for my subway ride so i could continue with each story!


Sharon I agree with you. I just picked up this book and I can't put it down. I am also an Indian Straddling two cultures and I discoverd Jhumpa Lahiri about 2 years ago, with "The Namesake". I didn't so much enjoy the story of "The Namesake" as I did what the story was really depicting. It captured those silent moments, and the hard to explain feeling of being caught between two totally different worlds.
Like Danica said, nothing too exciting happens to the characters in "Unaccustomed Earth". Its just the tie that I feel with them, and the comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who feels this way too.


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